Contemporary Intervention In Historical Building; ‘Insertion’ As A Design Strategy in Adaptive Reuse

Tarihi Yapılarda Çağdaş İç Mekan Müdaheleleri


  • Gamze Eneş
  • Nağme Ebru Karabağ



Contemporary Intervention, Adaptive Reuse, Conservation, Insertion, Interior Design


The redesign of historical buildings for functional transformation is an issue that has been on the agenda of architectural practice for a long time. According to the conservation theory, which has been developing since the 19th century, the interventions to be applied to historical buildings are expected to preserve and highlight the historical context and reflect its own period by taking inspiration from the context. In other words, it is desired that the original qualities shape the new design, and similarly, the new design increases its value by giving new meanings to the original structures. However, the complexity of the relationships such as harmony and contrast to be established with historical/contextual data makes the redesign of historical buildings a very problematic process, and the architect must use an architectural strategy that directs his/her design to establish a two-way interaction and connection between the old and the new.

One of these strategies, which is determined according to the relationship established between the tangible and intangible values of the host building and the elements that contain the requirements of the new function, is the insertion strategy. In this approach, which is one of the most notable approaches in contemporary interventions, the host structure remains largely unchanged, and the value of the area changes with the addition of new element(s) inspired by it. The new addition can be handled in a wide range between adapting to the original design and completely differentiating from the original structure, both approaches are accepted, provided that it does not harm the historical context. For this reason, the aim of the study is to investigate how unique features and contextual data should be used in the design process in the insertion strategy. In this context, firstly, the expansions in international documents containing principles regarding the interventions to historical structures are reviewed in chronological order, and the views of conservation theorists are examined. Then, the selected intervention design projects are examined and the diversity in intervention approaches is presented and evaluated in terms of conservation theory. Lastly, the success of the selected projects is analyzed within the framework of parameters related to preservation and design.

The fact that the contextual features of historical buildings and the abstract concepts, that they contain together with concrete data are different from each other, make it impossible to deal with all of them with the same approach. Therefore, subjective approaches are needed in accordance with principled decisions. A dynamic connection can be established between the strong character of the existing building and the simple form of the contemporary intervention, or it can be an uncompromising approach that is opposite to the existing structure. However, in every design approach, freedom and creativity in design should not dominate the historical buildings and go beyond the scale of the original structure. The dominant design, scale, form, and material in the intervention reduces the value of the historic building. Every change to be made in the interior should consist of creative approaches that are not bound by rules and should comply with principled decisions.

This study aims to be a resource to prevent the approaches that ignore the historical context because of the lack of these principles and documents about interior design processes of historical buildings. It is thought that this study will contribute to the development of awareness about contemporary interventions in the interior of historical buildings and will be a resource for researchers and architects who will work in such areas in the future, on the use and interpretation of contextual data as an input to the new design.





Derived from Postgraduate Studies