טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentBen-Shoshan Meir
SubjectDifferences in Architectural Intervention: Critical Theory
in Re-Use
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisors Professor Iris Aravot
Dr. Eran Neuman
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Recent years have witnessed a rising phenomena in architectural practice - the reuse of buildings. Reuse of buildings is a result of the call for sustainability of the built environment and the need to conserve the built heritage. Theories that deal with this field have begun to appear. A quick glance shows that the most common among them is the adaptive approach, focusing on practicable means to reuse buildings. The underlying assumption is that the physical appearance of the building - its form, materiality and visual dimensions - determine its use. A minor part of these theories relates to philosophical questions such as the meaning of reusing buildings: should the intervention strive to create an experience, event or physical space identical to the one that was there previously? This raises additional questions. How should the reuse relate to the physical aspects?  Does retaining the existing physicality mean retaining its meanings?

To answer these questions and provide a broad cultural approach to reuse, my research offers a critical theoretical model, based on the concepts of 'difference', 'repetition’ and ‘becoming’ from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. These Deleuzian concepts enable one to construct a theoretical framework and model, analyzing theoretical approaches in the field of building reuse. This theoretical framework is used to examine two case studies, Le Fresnoy (Tscumi 1998) and the Panopticon Prison in Arnhem (Koolhaas 1978).      

This research considers the existing body of theory in reuse in order to expand it, and contribute to a critical theoretical discourse absent in the field. It focuses on understanding the phenomena of the reuse of buildings from a broad cultural perspective. In order to expand the discourse I propose a new concept - the gap. The gap creates a transformative motion in thinking. It inspires to spread outwards, generating multiple products and affects. Compared to the conventional approach in which the gap is understood as a temporary stage between beginning and end, this gap mechanism offers a new direction of thinking in architectural intervention laying infrastructure for transformation in ideas and values, function, form and material.  This concept is used in the analysis of the case studies. By focusing on the gap


formed between the old and the renewed building, two Deleuzian based concepts are introduced to the discourse - transformative and generative reuse. Both concepts are proposed as alternatives to the normative approach in current architectural discourse. 

Diagrammatical methodologies are a media of generative thinking in architecture. In the reuse of buildings, diagrammatic methodologies enable the realization of generative and transformative thinking. The diagram is a media for research and creation in building reuse. It enables one to expand the concept of function and to use the architectural program as a tool for research and creation; to use the transformation as a means of critical transformation, particularly in the transformation of institutional buildings, and expand the possibilities of creative research in formalist and material aspects of the transformation. Diagrammatic works are demonstrated through the case studies. The final part of the composition relates to the operative potential of diagrammatic methodologies in building reuse.  

The work starts with a study of the research in the field of building reuse. It examines the common approaches to the term ‘intervention’, attempting to contextualize the research questions within contemporary approaches historically and theoretically.  I claim that the common discourse focuses on the physical aspects of the building and does not offer tools to cope with actual as well as virtual meanings carried by existing buildings. Within this background I discuss the first case study - a proposal to reuse a Panopticon prison in Arnhem, Holland by Rem Koolhaas (1978). Koolhaas's proposal focuses on the virtual and conceptual aspects of the building. Koolhass attempted to revise the Panopticon diagram on which the building is based. At the next stage the conceptual theoretical foundation of the work is presented. The works of artist-architect Gordon Matta-Clark from the 1970’s are shown as expressing the gap between the existing building and the architectural intervention. Matta-Clark's works expand the possibilities rooted in building reuse and enable one to discuss it in non-comparative terms such as good versus bad, beautiful versus ugly, original versus unoriginal. This leads to an evaluation of architectural intervention in relation to origin, through various landmarks in the history of architectural conservation.  New theoretical concepts are introduced to find other, non-comparative evaluations of architectural intervention. The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and his concepts of difference, repetition and becoming (dévenir) are used to conceptualize a new discourse in reuse. A theoretical model is presented that critically analyzes approaches in reuse through the Deleuzian concept of difference. The model proposes two new approaches for building reuse - transformative and generative. The potential of these approaches will be discussed through the next case study - the architectural reuse of Le Fresnoy, a national art academy in France designed by Bernard Tschumi. 

In Le Fresnoy, a large new roof was added to a complex of buildings from the 1920’s, creating an unexpected ‘in-between’ space. The planning process went beyond the attempt to find a solution for the old buildings, producing a multiplicity of design techniques and products. Re-programming, multiplication, and expansion of the architectural program served to expand the possibilities of the reuse creating unexpected outcomes.

Further, cinematic diagrams , an attempt at ‘editing space’, expanded architectural discourse into cinematic methodology and the concept of montage, forming a multilayered dialog with the conceptual history of Modernity. I show that this design process uses the full potential of the transformative and generative possibilities in reuse, expanding the discourse in architecture beyond the building.  

In the last part of the work the concept of the gap is developed. This concept relates to a stage of transition, a constant ‘becoming’ in the process of reuse. The concept is presented through a model. The model raises the need to find new forms of thinking and new tools that will enable one to deal with the many aspects of building reuse - actual and virtual. The gap model is presented in relation to a model that describes conventional, dichotomous thinking in building reuse, which does not include a gap. The gap mechanism enables one to redefine the architectural act of intervention as a creative process of ‘making difference’. Diagrammatic methodologies are discussed as the media that enables one to realize in architecture the transformative and generative potential evolving from the gap. Finally, some operative possibilities of the diagram in building reuse are raised and discussed.