Illustration by Celia Díaz.
More and more developers are restoring abandoned buildings to rescue architectural treasures lost inside the urban jungle. These are grand places that used to be factories, hospitals or churches and were forgotten as time went by; and now they are becoming key points for city development.
This practice is known as adaptive reuse and is a worldwide phenomenon. We have seen it in cities like New York, Toronto, Paris, London and Mexico… but what is happening? Why is this trend so relevant now?
What are the benefits of restoring buildings?
This behavior is becoming relevant for many economic and social factors that have a positive impact on the area. It is believed that in the next 10 years 90% of all construction in the U.S. will be done on existing buildings. Below we analyze some of the trend’s aspects and benefits:
On one hand there are diverse governmental resources available to reinstate these areas. On the other hand, there’s reduced costs to purchase construction materials: it is easier to take the existing structure and remake it than to completely demolish it and build on top of it. In addition, the possibility of taking the original materials from the building and reusing them increases the value of the building.
2. Social benefits
Among the social benefits there are two important aspects. The first is more sentimental, as the restoration of a building rescues the memories, people, images and events that the place has kept over time. The recovery of a building helps to strengthen the history and culture of a city. Alan Faena, who has stood for rescuing of buildings in cities like Buenos Aires and Miami, mentions in an interview:
“It is very important to maintain the identity of the place, the past, the old families and the old customs of the people who were here before us. They were the ones who created the city.”
The facades of these constructions become street museums that improve the urban landscape, as well as being pioneers for the redevelopment of the area: our second social benefit. This new project may create the need to open new establishments such as restaurants, schools or museums in an area that may have been abandoned or sparsely inhabited. This entails several benefits in the area such as the possibility of creating a sense of community, making the area more accessible and attracting new companies or businesses; which increases the surplus value and, consequently, increases its value.
Another benefit of restoration is sustainability: taking what already exists and rebuilding it rather than starting it from scratch decreases the production of new materials and reduces the waste generated in the process.
Great destinations in rescued buildings
A food hall in New York that has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It is located in the former Nabisco factory, an 1890s building that is listed as part of the National Register of Historic Places and was restored in the 1990s. It now houses this renowned gastronomic mecca on the ground floor.
This is a convent from 1608 in Valencia that belonged to the Carmelites. It is a place that is being rehabilitated as a multi-purpose venue where you can find several options for eating, an area for concerts or conferences and a hotel that is under construction where cells once stood.
It’s a hotel in London that is located inside the building that was once Midland Bank, a 1924 building that belonged to Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens. It was rebuilt and converted into a hotel, club and gastronomic spot, named after its first owner.
This multipurpose complex in Tampa, Florida has become a crucial element in bringing new life to the Tampa Heights neighborhood. A 1912 building used by the Tampa electric company that is now a large social hub on the banks of the Hillsborough River. Thanks to this restoration, one of the most iconic areas of the city was rescued and transformed.
This Porfirian mansion located in colonia Juarez in Mexico City was rebuilt and now houses two chef-driven restaurants on the ground floor and several offices in the rest of the building; undoubtedly a project that gave life to this iconic neighbourhood.
This trend is being adopted more and more, as it brings with it many benefits. The conservation of these facades is not an easy task, as many factors must be aligned. However, it implies a valuable investment both for the developers and for the future of the cities and districts.
*Our specialty is the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry.