Reuse is not just about sustainability – it can a choice of necessity or even preference. The traditional masonry of this 18th Century American schoolhouse (remodeled by Faleide Architects) is surely the envy of many neighbors while the addition contrasts playfully with the original structure.
The original historic brick and stone building was constructed near Denver in the late 1800s and, as this image illustrates, was once a very different kind of place – home to a huge group of students with a vastly different set of spatial needs.
The renovated interior is very modern in terms of its structure, spaces and materials but still retains hints of what it was before – places where you can see the exterior stone still on the inside and window openings that are the same size and shape as the originals.
The modern addition was carefully created to look quite different from the original building. As a result of this creative exterior design choice, the conversion process clearly still shows the original as an intact object and the built-out part as something new that makes clear it has a different history and origin.
“Humans seek out orientation – we want to know where we are in relation to the world,” says the architect. “We orient ourselves by the things that surround us – places, smells, etc. These things tell us we are here and not there. The world around us can provide orientation inadvertently – such as finding our way through a forest. But as a designer, I create things that provide orientation deliberately. If I am to design something that provides orientation, it must be particular so that it can be used by people to differentiate, which is at the heart of orientation. Going back to information informing form, the more information I have – about the circumstances of the site, about the politics of the place, about the geography of the place – the more particular I can design.”
“I use all of this information to inform my manipulation of the elements of architecture – walls, columns, roofs, beams, etc, along with the materials. The object, to the extent that it will connote image, will carry the meaning of sign – it will become as symbol or an icon. But as an architect, I believe my primary obligation is to create a design that embodies the essential qualities of what is desired to be made. “