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ArgumentNo. 5/2013

Functional conversion – a tool in urban regeneration


Nowadays, contemporary architecture seems that it is no longer born from a certain place, the idea of an architecture of place (and time) being slowly removed. The historical constructions preservation means also a conservation of the place memory, historical buildings playing an important role in finding urban revitalization models.

The conversion of a building may be understood as a transformation or as a change by (re)modeling the content (or the function), without the change of the shape, along a route which starts from something – the old function, and heads towards something else – the new function. In a pragmatic way, functional conversion means a building reutilization, in order to fulfill the contemporary needs, in the (urban) context in which it is included.

The economical development from the industrial period has led to a fast urbanization and to the emergence of big metropolis and conurbations. The industrial site from the towns’ center occupies a distinct place among the industrial heritage material forms, the contemporary city memory being marked by the presence of the factories which grew up with it. When the primer function of a building it is no longer useful, as happens with the structures from the industrial era, appears the opportunity to change its utilization, while the architectural character of the building is being kept.

The urban regeneration and the recycling of the existing built environment are important components in the urban strategically planning, based on the resources responsible management. The industrial spaces conversion is a vital instrument in urban regeneration, because of the industrial sites location in the modern towns’ central area.

An interesting story about a history of a trail and about urban regeneration and reintegration through functional conversion, it is the story of the industrial railway, “High Line” New York. The urban impact of this intervention had a great significance, the recycling of the railway track leading to the area real estate development, a fact which makes from the “High Line” a truly urban regeneration project.


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