Additions to Revitalize Existing Structures

With time, area requirements might increase concerning a commercial office, a growing family, or a flourishing retail store to meet their future requirements. In such cases, completely shifting the place or rebuilding it from scratch might not be the ideal solution, for both environmental and economic reasons. All our decisions need to be based on understanding that the very act of building is something that isn't entirely sustainable as it involves going against nature. Demolition and wastage should be avoided as far as possible and adaptive reuse, addition, or alteration can be employed for successfully revitalizing the building for better suiting our requirement.

Don't underestimate the power of a modern addition to existing heritage houses, a job well done will increase the style quotient and property value of such a house by multiple folds. As a trend where homestays are gaining momentum, buying such a property, and making some additions can give you a weekend house to capitalize on. Design is only limited by your vision and creativity, fresh additions can be envisioned at any part of the building, top, side, rear, or front area. Additions can be done in three different ways depending on the requirement of the project, client, and budget.

Contemporary extension for a lakeside dwelling by Paul Bernier. Image Credits: Raphaël Thibodeau

Distinct Addition:

This is usually a pavilion-like structure envisioned at the site with a stark contrast to the existing structure or similar. A new perspective on the site can be created as a benefit of additions. There must be some element that keeps the built forms integral, like similar material or façade patterns. The project will need to be erected from scratch which might come at a higher cost. (Can be done in large Institutional buildings or Resorts)

Outward addition:

An extension protrudes out of the existing building line horizontally. Some ways to go about it could be by following a similar roofline but increasing the glazing in the new part for a seamless interior-exterior or maybe orienting the addition contrasting to the existing structure illustrating like it's breaking through can also be an interesting thought. (Works well in Bungalows, farmhouse, or revamping heritage structures)

Upward addition:

An economical way to add space in urban and suburban areas is by going vertical. The major advantage of this system is the use of existing systems and space without additional foundation and infrastructure costs. A fun way to go about this is by layering volumes, harmonizing between solid-void, and strategically utilizing the abundant view and natural light.

Steps to follow when approaching additions:

Step 1: Check with local rules and bylaws, calculate the remaining FSI available for construction, understand the setbacks that need to be maintained

Step 2: Feasibility analysis of such projects remains crucial; the structural integrity needs to be properly investigated and kept undisturbed. Upward additions can especially be tricky in the case of a load-bearing structure as the walls cannot be altered (load carrying capacities should be checked). Framed structures are advantages as the load-carrying members are beams and columns hence spaces within these can easily be extended since everything is a part of an extendable grid.

Step 3: The newly added part should evolve after assessing the history of the structure and using it potentially as an inspiration. Suggesting the best alternative to the client based upon in-depth analysis and tentative costing.

Step 4: After the due approval of the client and authorities, the work can begin by appointing a contractor. Protection of the existing house elements during the construction of the new phase is crucial.

Case Study: Military History Museum, Dresden, Germany

Studio Libeskind presented a courageous design for the museum to alter its identity by the addition of design that boldly interrupted the original building’s classical symmetry. Even though the original competition brief did not allow to disturb the historical façade, it was accepted to achieve the institution’s vision. 

The modern extension was a striking five-story high wedge, curated out of glass, concrete, and steel, contrasting the order and materiality of the museum. Apart from giving a fresh outlook towards the perception of the building, the 82ft high landing of the wedge provides a reflective space pondering upon the breath-taking views and the areas where the firebombing began in Dresden.

Image Credits: Hufton + Crow Photography

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