Almost no buildings adapt well. They’re designed not to adapt; also budgeted and financed not to, constructed not to, administered not to, maintained not to, regulated and taxed not to, even remodeled not to. But all buildings (except monuments) adapt anyway, however poorly, because the usages in and around them are changing constantly. – Stewart Brand
Regarding ‘the new’: Typical to the contemporary architect’s training is a focus on the new and novel as the object of creation. This focus on individual genius and the singular act of design not only misrepresents the true realities of practice (in which solutions arise as a network of voices), it also undertrains our ability to co-create within our existing built environment – a reality which is essential to the future of our practice as we move towards net 0 building.
Retrofit architecture is likely to be the majority of work in your careers ahead, and it needs to be studied as a territory of meaningful and beautiful potential for architecture, and our ecosystem.
This said, how do we create retrofit solutions that apply broadly, and might impact our built environment beyond the source site? This semester we will attempt apply a ‘toolkit’ approach to retrofitting by looking at common challenges and proposing systems for adaptation that apply across multiple sites. You will be co-designing with existing architecture. You will be creating ‘kits’ to enable end user change. You will be crafting adaptive solutions to minimize the unneeded expenditure of carbon.