Four Ways to Retrofitting
22 February 2022
Taking architectural stewardship of a site, even for a short period of time, is a great responsibility. Every building represents a new chapter in the history of a place and, we believe, should be approached as part of a much longer timeline of cause and effect that continues before and after our involvement. Increasingly, these new histories are about retrofitting what we already have rather than building from scratch, and this has given our practice mission of design custodianship even greater relevance. Our approach, whatever the depth of the retrofit, is always guided by the following four ideas:
We don’t believe in rolling out ready-made solutions, so every retrofit project presents a fresh and specific scenario for investigation and analysis. Every brief is different, and all sites have their own unique histories. Our job is to interrogate both and develop a scheme that aligns them with minimal environmental impact.
The best buildings have inherent qualities of light, volume and character. Retrofitting should not just be about performing 'cosmetic surgery' on an existing structure; it is about digging deep to uncover and enhance these natural assets without compromise.
Alongside their good original bones, many existing structures also offer great opportunity. Working with what we find, we often uncover the potential to make great buildings even better, adapting them to suit new patterns of living and working. We believe that the more a building evolves, the better it should become.
Just as we retrofit to remove redundancy from a building, we also try to reinforce its character and history. These stories have to be genuine and relatable, adding to the ongoing heritage of a place without resorting to pastiche or inauthentic ‘brand making’.