Architectural studies’ prior aim was to formulate a sheltering system of slabs and walls for accommodation in ancient history. Nowadays, it becomes at the highest level of creativity and imaginative solutions for more greenery and a sustainable future with high-tech materials and equipment. Although architectural studies follow up the current conditions, it is also being exposed to its challenges to gain a balance between ‘old’ and ‘new’. Therefore, the term ‘adaptive reuse’ has emerged to respect the past and protect the future. While preserving historic buildings is vital to understand the cultural identity and heritage, re-functioning of an existing building creates a new approach for restoration.

Preliminary Factors of Historic Preservation

Preservation and restoration of the building have become significant points to reshape the future by preserving the cultural and historical characteristics. Therefore, there are various aspects to restore a building in the scope of preservation, renovation, re-function, and reconstruction. The prior factor of these architectural implementations is to identify the material difference for indicating the preserved existing structure within an additional architectural feature. However, re-functioning requires more detailed analysis to give the building a new identity. For instance, Le Murate in Florence once served as a convent, later became a prison and now the building is a multipurpose space for socialization, artistic events, and residential living. This way of intervention is to reactivate the space to serve as multifunctional space for current sociological needs such as hosting an exhibition space in residence for Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Meanwhile, Le Murate is keeping its own identity with existing materials.

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Re-inhabiting Perspective by Francesca Lanz Le Murate Florence_©
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Antwerp Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects_©
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Antwerp Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects Interior View_©

Moreover, The Port House by Zaha Hadid Architects was a fire station and re-functioned as an office building with a multifaceted glass top. During the projects’ processing with the analysis of restoration and renovation of historic monuments, an important axis between the city centre and the port is determined. Moreover, the building’s history reshapes its future and creates a bridge between the past and the present by differentiating additional glass floating volume with preserved old facades. 

Refunctioning and Change of Characteristics in a Building

The function of the building designates the soul and perception of space and in adaptive reuse projects, it is a critical debate to specify a new function for a space. For instance, the Kanarie Club by Studio Modijefsky was once a tram depot in 1902 and now it is designed for restaurant & bar in the Netherlands. Although the design highlights the modern interior design style, the design studio has created strong references to the past. The tram depot used to include services such as electricity, paint, wood, and metalwork and after renovation, these factors inspire the material and color palette of the interior which also provides a source to divide the restaurant space into different zones. 

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Kanarie Club Tram Depot from 1902_©
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Kanarie Club Designed by Studio Modijefsky_©
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Kanarie Club Designed by Studio Modijefsky_©

Also, the tram rails are restored and be part of the renovation with strong strokes and forming an arch with integrated lighting. Tram signage and language are used for restaurant signing and custom-made furniture is selected to resemble vintage design old electric tram seats. And a waterless indoor pool refers to the spaces’ past. For this reason, although the restaurant & bar interior provides a modern and elegant look with cove lighting, a hybrid layout with a level difference, and a joyful gen-Z environment, the space is designed according to its past references to give a new life to the existing interior space with renovation.

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Cappadocia Spa Hotel by GAD Architecture Exterior View_©

Spatial Analysis in Adaptive Reuse Buildings

In addition to the re-functioning process for the historic buildings in the context of adaptive reuse, it is important to have spatial analysis within the heritage site’s characteristics. In this manner, GAD Architecture’s Cappadocia Thermal Hotel in Kepez creates a thermal tourism accommodation with the new interpretation of hospitality within interior spaces’ forms. The hotel references distinct methods for space creating valley or cave rooms by using negative, positive, and hybrid space. For this reason, the project’s location creates an impact on the spacious interior forms and like re-functioning of a building according to its past, it creates a reference for the non-existing structure to preserve the historical site. 

Traditional but stylish interiors of stone architecture also emphasize the space and light with organic openings and the interiors provide the synthesis of contemporary design and the ancient Christian and cave dwellings. The interior space obtains the indication of unique geological characteristics of Cappadocia as one of the cities that is on the list of UNESCO’s ‘World Natural and Cultural Heritage. Therefore, spatial analysis can provide a beneficial source for designing cultural-historical heritage sites in the context of preservation.

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Cappadocia Spa Hotel by GAD Architecture Hotel Room_©gadarchitecture.com8_Cappadocia Spa Hotel by GAD Architecture Hotel Room_©
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Cappadocia Spa Hotel by GAD Architecture_©
Cappadocia Spa Hotel by GAD Architecture Space Analysis_©

In conclusion, adaptive reuse is one of the most significant topics which is directly related to architecture and design in terms of re-functioning by preserving the existing building. It also provides a reference for new adaptive buildings for the site’s historical and cultural characteristics.


  1. Gewirtzman, D., 2017. Adaptive Reuse Architecture Documentation and Analysis. Journal of Architectural Engineering Technology, 05(03).
  2. Lanz, F., 2018. Re-Inhabiting. Thoughts on the Contribution of Interior Architecture to Adaptive Intervention: People, Places, and Identities. Journal of Interior Design, 43(2), pp.3-10.
  3. Pearman, H., 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 August 2021].
  4. ArchDaily. 2021. Kanarie Club / Studio Modijefsky. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 August 2021].
  5. Parametric Architecture. 2021. Cappadocia Hotel by Global Architectural Development (GAD). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 15 August 2021]. 

Betül Özlem Yılmaz is a 4th year interior architecture student and passionate researcher for different topics which is related to architecture and design. She is interested in reading, writing and conceptualizing the projects for creating unique perspective. Her aim is to combine different disciplines in her writings.