On 4 August 2022 the UIA Work Programme Heritage and Cultural Identity hosted a webinar with a panel of experts on the subject of Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings

Aligning with the aim of UIA, the Work Programme is planning a series of discussions to promote, discuss, create, and showcase architecture as a vital tool for achieving the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The initial target is to generate substantial projects through discussion to show in the UIA World Congress of Architects in 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark. As part of this journey, the 1st webinar titled ‘Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings’ aimed to relate two themes of the Copenhagen Grand Forum: Design for Rethinking Resources and Design for Health, through the heritage lens.

This webinar featured presentations from: 

Poonam Verma Mascarenhas: Cultural Dynamics for Climate Action

Ganit Mayslits Kassif : redevelopment of Tel Aviv

Jharna Joshi: Restoration and upcycling buildings: A sustainable building practice

Jeremie Hoffman : Case study of the City of Tel Aviv

Download the flyer

Read the speakers’ biographies


Poonam Verma Mascarenhas: Cultural Dynamics for Climate Action

Cultural Heritage and Climate Change are both anthropogenic as in originating in human activity. The two streams – Conservation and Sustainability serve the same custodial role in caretaking resources and preserving them for the next generation.

Conservation of both built and natural environments often plays out on a battleground, where the predominant economic model of infinite growth and one of its principal tools, development, is in direct conflict with our planet’s finite resources. Sustainable development is cast as the solution for somehow navigating these two opposing and irreconcilable forces. Culture is considered as the 4th pillar of sustainable development; however, I believe it can be the integrator connecting the other pillars economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection and helping to carry the weight of Sustainability. Specifically, ‘culture’ is a process, wherein the first step is to invent or modify a new pattern of behavior. Humans have undertaken this process for 3000 years, as recorded history of the Indian subcontinent with six climatic zones informs us. The living culture and the two years of raging pandemic is testimony that humans are adaptable and are the key to managing the finite resources of the planet. Thus, looking specifically at the Indian context, we will examine the contributions that a ‘culture of values’ excavated from the past and ‘development-oriented conservation’ can make.

Jharna Joshi: Restoration and upcycling buildings: A sustainable building practice

Restoration of existing buildings is central to sustainability in architecture. Maintaining what we have and reusing it is one of the best ways to save carbon. The building industry is producing massive amounts of waste and is consuming large amounts of natural resources and energy. The total energy consumption from the extraction of materials during construction to the use and disassembly of buildings and structures is huge. Our vernacular buildings use local materials and resources, appropriate energy technology under given geographical, climatic and cultural conditions and are energy efficient and sustainable. Restoration and adaptive reuse of existing buildings pollutes less, ties up less energy, produces less waste, and provides solutions that are safer and healthier. Regular maintenance and careful adaptation of existing buildings are keys to sustainable consumption in the built environment.

Ganit Mayslits Kassif : redevelopment of Tel Aviv

The redevelopment of the Port of Tel Aviv, built in the 1930s, was neglected and abandoned for over 50 years.  The City of Tel Aviv commissioned several planning schemes and held competitions for various development projects over the years, based on the underlying idea of new massive urban development with lots of new building rights.  In 2000, a different, proactive view was presented by the Port management to “bring back the Port to the City now” and omit the lengthy planning process for a new Master Plan. The strategy was to reuse and redevelop the existing land for public space and reuse, instead of demolishing, the old buildings. The idea marked the inception of a new type of “urban regeneration’ for Tel Aviv, rethinking public resources for public use and implementing new standards of design to Israel’s public spaces, resulting in a Port district which is a well-used and lively platform for a new waterfront culture.

Jeremie Hoffman : Case study of the City of Tel Aviv

Using the City of Tel Aviv as a case study for the development of planning principles for preservation of the historic urban context, while at the same time addressing the needs of the modern growing city, this discussion will highlight the ideas of reuse and adaptation of the urban environment as well as the process and the adaptation of urban planning mechanisms for preservation, utilising the principles of Historic Urban Landscape (HUL).