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Research: essential for repurposing projects

Repurposing isn’t about 'blindly' renovating or converting buildings. On the contrary, successful, profitable repurposing projects are the result of numerous in-depth investigations. From design to urban planning, to heritage, schematic and financial-based research. And this type of research is best led by a generalist architect with an exceptionally broad overview.

The research phase is the foundation of every project. Please don't ask us to simply 'build 120 apartments, a retail centre or an office complex in a particular location.' No, our solution comes in the form of a programme that we can expand on in the future, and is the result of exhaustive preliminary research. This is how bow architecten differs fundamentally from other architectural firms. Our preliminary investigations are the raison d'être of our repurposing story.

Cadastral lots

Design-based research is conducted in the initiation phase and is, as far as we’re concerned, essential. But this type of research is not enough in isolation. It must be further broken down and substantiated. Zoning plans divide land into cadastral lots, each designated with a specific purpose: agricultural, residential, industrial, and so on. These zoning plans have been supplemented with additional layers of regulations over the years. Amongst other things, these include BPAs (Urban Plans) and RUPs (Spatial Implementation Plans). Many, including ourselves, believe that these provisions are completely outdated. Indeed, building plots now find themselves in a new social context with different needs and requirements. So, let's get creative and put a stop to the rigid, inflexible approach that insists on designating specific purposes to specific zones. And let's start to question the mishmash of designations that has resulted from an antiquated planning model.

Heritage context

We commence our planological and urban development research before we even contemplate putting pen to paper. While most architects get stuck straight into their assignments, we begin by initiating in-depth investigations that form the framework of our design. We also explore the heritage context. What's the historical value and significance of the buildings concerned? We examine this from the outside in. We believe in the optimal preservation of every building. No one would ever consider demolishing a church. Yet manor houses can be of similar historic value. We don't run pipes therefore in rooms that contain paintings or tapestries, neither do we disturb panelling or floor coverings.

Schematic design research in parallel

You can only commence work on the actual design, once you’ve completed your preliminary urban planning and heritage investigations. But it doesn't stop at shapes, surfaces or volumes. We run our design research in parallel with schematic design, and later, financial research. Who are we creating the design for? We, as architects, benefit from an 'overview' of all the various disciplines that have undergone investigation. This enables us to engage with any other parties that need to come on board in order to define the repurposing project. Our comprehensive preliminary research must result in a well-founded feasibility study that proposes potential solutions: a purpose that conforms to the zoning plan, delivers the desired user experience and is also financially viable. Stakeholders need to be able to explore the look and feel of their project. We therefore integrate the results of our schematic design research into the final master plan.

Sustainable, profitable repurposing

So, let's stop the silo-based approach and start collaborating in a more interdisciplinary way. Every plot does indeed have a purpose. We focus on the city's major blind spots. We must dare to revisit an outdated planning model that invariably builds residential homes in quieter city outskirts, rendering shopping, sports and cultural amenities inaccessible.

At bow architecten, we explore what's possible from a legal perspective to make each and every repurposing project an unmitigated success. Only this type of substantiated, integrated approach can lead to socially relevant, sustainable and, yes, highly profitable repurposing.

Are you looking to repurpose old companies of varcant properties?

Let us know and we will let you start dreaming.

Contact us