eCite Digital Repository

Building upon: a designer's approach to adaptive reuse


Shroff, MB and Worrall, J, Building upon: a designer's approach to adaptive reuse, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) 37: What if? What next? Speculations on History's Futures, 18-25 November 2020, Perth, Australia and online, pp. 501-515. ISBN 978-0-646-83725-3 (2020) [Refereed Conference Paper]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand

Official URL:


With heritage policy stressing cultural significance extending in many cases beyond the material reality of an existing building towards intangible heritage, this paper seeks to put forward an alternative approach to those that emphasise a stable understanding of existing buildings as material artefact. The propositions described in this paper aim to promote new conceptual tolerances for creating architecture from existing buildings via a design research modality.

This paper sets out a speculative, design-oriented approach and methodology to mediating the relationship between intangible heritage qualities possessed by existing buildings and their agency towards the creation of new form for adaptive reuse. It describes the creation of mnemonic and metaphoric devices to mobilise and tease out these qualities via acts of oblique questioning and imaginative interpretation.

The specific case employed to mobilise this inquiry is the Union House building at the University of Adelaide, designed in 1969-1975 by Dickson & Platten. The re-reading and focus on a single building provides a consistent base as a starting point, allowing a clear mapping of a suite of design strategies, akin to a "theme and variations" approach found in musical composition.

The consistent premise is for a building realised in-situ through a new 2500m2 volume and selective demolition of the existing Union House. Re-readings of the existing building are conducted in search for distinctive points of departure emanating from the host building. Through various techniques, the generated propositions aim for "conceptual fidelity" to the host while articulating an expanded field of architectural qualities sourced in its existing condition.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:critical adaptive reuse, experimental heritage, Dickson and Platten (architectural firm)
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural design
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in built environment and design
UTAS Author:Worrall, J (Professor Julian Worrall)
ID Code:145909
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2021-08-11
Last Modified:2021-09-24

Repository Staff Only: item control page