Much of the existing building stock in our towns and cities, sometimes in good condition or historically important, can be adapted and put to new use. These buildings provide a resource rather than an irritation and should be assessed for the qualities they can bring.
The challenges when working with existing buildings are very different from new construction. Existing structures rarely conform to any of the current standards- the three most important being accessibility, acoustics and energy consumption. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) now places a statutory obligation on organisations to address accessibility without prejudice to the disabled- looking at the entrance, introducing new lifts, stairs or ramps between floors and mitigating the problem of changes in level.
The reuse of existing buildings is in itself a sustainable strategy in preserving the embodied energy of the existing fabric (e.g. foundations, facades & floors). However with these structures whether C18th/ 19th load-bearing or C20th framed construction there is a need to put in place a comprehensive environmental strategy (insulation, ventilation and heating).
Acoustic separation is a particular challenge in the reuse of existing buildings for a mix of uses. Our work includes mixed use, housing, commercial, education and training, leisure and a town hall. A good example of our work in this area is 16, Hoxton Square, London, a converted Grade II listed disused London Board School, funded by the ODPM’s New Deal Programme.
Buschow Henley has received two RIBA Awards for Architecture for its work in adaptive reuse- 10-22 Shepherdess Walk, London in 2000 and Talkback, London 2002