People often assume that a refurbished, remodelled or extended building will automatically be inferior to a new one. It’s a surprising assumption when you consider the many excellent examples of buildings that are all the richer for having been built and then changed – perhaps a better term is transformed – intelligently and with all the care and attention that would be lavished on a new building.
People often have low expectations when presented with the option of a refurbished, adapted or extended building. They will have witnessed the incremental changes through poor maintenance, repair or changes in legislation that gradually erode whatever positive qualities the original buildings may have had. Fire alarm systems are upgraded and ugly metal trunking is bolted to walls and ceilings. Buildings are repainted routinely and unimaginatively and original colour schemes are forgotten. Piecemeal extensions are constructed with inadequate budgets or forethought and with little consideration of how they integrate with the rest of the building. An effective transformation of a building is the result of a holistic vision of the whole site and a thorough analysis of the existing structures by those who know them best.
Is refurbishment a second best option? Absolutely not. There are many examples of buildings that were due to be replaced by a new scheme but were retained and transformed because of their special status and where retention can be seen to have been the better or cost effective option.