A building is a precious asset, acquired at a great expense of resources and effort. No one wants it to go waste so it gets reborn and put to different use. A building continues to be relevant for many different reasons.
A building, if it has a form of architectural styling then it is continued as a relic. When it has commemorative connections, in appreciation of its past, the building becomes a monument. Buildings that need to be remembered are restored or preserved to retain their form, but often in complete absence of the original setting. A building that has substantially lost the form and has indistinct circumstantial connections can be enacted through re-imaging of its setting, like through Sound & light shows (son et lumiere) shows and such enactments at historical sites.
Buildings are continued by Restorative as well as Enabling interventions. Repairs and maintenance schedules can restore parts, components and systems, provided the design is ‘open-ended’. However, holistic creations or ‘close-ended’ entities deteriorate completely without any scope for corrective measures. Enabling interventions add local capacities, or mediate by adjusting the existing capacities. Changes in the surroundings force functional changes in the building, however, whether one makes the changes to be with surroundings or resists, both ways the building gets altered.
Buildings persist, primarily by changing the functions they serve, secondly by redefining the form, and in rare cases, if possible, by altering the surroundings. Many corrective actions are necessary to use the building for a different purpose. Redefining the form of a building is even more difficult as it expected to satisfy simultaneously the functional needs and the value system in the society. In the first instance if the owner finds the corrective actions uneconomic, and would rather opt for a new entity. In the later case, the changes in the form may make the society apathetic to the building’s revised ‘look’. The preservation of surroundings of buildings requires social, political and financial involvement, beyond the reach of an owner or user. A building, if is a public utility, serves social functions, or is society’s pride and prestige, its surroundings will be maintained or even resurrected.
Young buildings seem invincible. Original intentions are still valid and surroundings relevant, and so no change of the function or form is required. Enabling interventions such as maintenance helps a building continue with a predictable and consistent pace. Such restorative efforts sustain the form and nurture the functions. New buildings have overcapacity risk margins. The parts and components are able to share the additional loads or risks posed by neighbouring constituents. So in early stages of buildings’ life no major replacements are required. New buildings do not need immediate changes unless the programme for it has been faulty, or it coincides with major changes in the political, social or economics fields. Changes in the early phase can be easily made, because original designer and design documents are available. At this point the building is structurally fit for habitation.
All changes, whether these are improvisations, preventive corrections, sufficiency provisions, or resurrectional actions, may be ‘minor, imperceptible, innocent, non-invasive or just touching’. Such small changes however, gradually add up to completely reformat the original form. These reformations are in addition to the parallel altering process of nature.
Buildings with associated values are carefully changed to maintain the form, and the functions. Such building seems to last forever, except when referenced against past records or memories. Though planned corrective measures or the inevitable (natural) changes may sum up into ‘non-recoverable’ damaging consequences.