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Adaptive reuseAdaptive reuse is a global architectural trend that is gaining traction in Pakistan. It is a process that involves renovating an existing structure in order to utilise it for an entirely new function. Although globally adaptive reuse is most commonly employed to convert heritage buildings, in Pakistan it is primarily implemented in order to convert houses into commercial enterprises, such as offices, restaurants, salons and schools. One of the biggest advantages of adaptive reuse is that it is more economical and requires less time than tearing down a building and constructing a new one. 

Here are a few guidelines to consider if you are planning to renovate a house and use it for a commercial enterprise: 

  • Retain well-maintained elements of the original structure such as marble floor tiles, ceiling designs, antique wooden doors, brick or stone walls and vintage door handles. Not only will this reduce costs substantially, these elements will give the space personality. Some of these elements can be recycled. For example, the wood from a door can be used to create window frames.
  • One investment that is worth making is the introduction of eco-friendly elements that bring in more light and air. These can include skylights, double glazed windows, solar panels and heat proofing the roof.
  • There is an increasing trend towards false ceilings in new structures primarily as a means of installing low-height lighting options that require fewer lights in order to make the room brighter. If possible, avoid doing this because not only does this procedure compromise aesthetics, it makes spaces appear smaller than they are.
  • Avoid dividing rooms in order to create more space. Instead, consider adding more floors to the existing structure, as long as it doesn’t compromise the structural integrity. Another option is to construct new rooms or create room extensions if space allows.
  • Facades should be altered to reflect the building’s new function. This can be done by using appropriate paint colours and textures and adding fixtures.
  • Improve the utility of the structure by replacing old electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, etc. Treatment of seepages, cracks and moulds is mandatory for most buildings.

– Farah Rizwan                                                                                                       The writer is a consultant architect.               

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 13, 2014. 

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