The way a building is used may very well change over the course of its life cycle. The British artist Damien Hirst, for example, is showing his art collection in listed buildings that were built some 100 years ago as theatre workshops and have been masterfully renovated and expanded by Caruso St John Architects. The Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, in contrast, uses the Hanseatic city’s former quay warehouse as a base and stands out clearly from this existing plinth; the controversial project by Herzog & de Meuron finally opens to the public on January 11 – our contributing editor Frank Kaltenbach got a sneak preview and presents his thoughts on the building in this issue.
This issue focusses on refurbishments, rehabilitations, and additions. And these need not be associated with converting the building to a new use: many interventions also improve upon existing concepts. Following the restructuring by Studio Marco Vermeulen, the museum in De Biesbosch, a nature sancturay in the Netherlands, flows seemlessly into the surrounding polder landscape. And the historic Fondaco dei Tedeschi on the Canal Grande in Venice – which OMA has renovated for use as a high-end department store – has always been a platform for commerce. An interview with Reinier de Graaf gives a glimpse of the philosophy that lies behind the Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s refurbishment projects.