Adaptive reuse is a hopeful means of preserving our cities heritage, and the author Pier Francesco Cherchi surely justifies the merits that it has to offer. He tries justifying the hidden relationship between healthy city projects and the existing practices of re-utilisation through existing literature. Finally, he tries to prove them through the case study of Ospedale San Giovanni di Dio in Cagliari, Italy. However, he has done so concerning European cities as its theme of adaptive reuse of unused spaces is slightly different compared to North American cities. 

Cherchi states that reusing spaces and buildings is an important strategy for sustainable development and a relevant answer to the excessive use of resources, leading to its degradation in the near future.

Healthier and More Liveable Cities | Monumental Buildings

Urban sustainability seems to talk about notions of living comfort and technical issues pertaining to energy efficiency, but it does not touch on the fact that a city’s identity is a key factor in its growth towards sustainability. He indicates how Kevin Lynch’s study denoted the correlation between buildings and the sense of identity. Using this as a justification, the author enlightens us on the role that adaptive reuse can play in urban planning

Surely restoration and utilisation of the buildings that contribute to the cultural identity and to the sense of belonging to a place of a whole community is a better option than its destruction.

The San Giovanni di Dio,

Another factor that is stated is accessibility in terms of easy access either by walking or biking, which in turn leads to a healthier city with reduced air pollution. These old structures were built on ideal locations in city centres to include them in the reformation of a city. Why not utilise this purpose to cater to the present community living there? This is exactly what the author tries to convince us.

Regeneration of Abandoned Monumental Buildings

In a city like Seattle that, over the years, has undergone decay and abandonment, economic growth is not dependent on the attractiveness of the city but policies of urban regeneration. The adaptive reuse of buildings is the thing that can propel to betterment in terms of economic benefits. Seattle uses this particular element to help steer its economic well-being back to shore with the attractiveness this has on urban regeneration.

Reutilising these spaces may lead to better connectivity through the introduction of these as public spaces that could improve the accessibility in and around the city. Many open spaces are tied to such monumental buildings, and its reuse can provide more space in an urban context where space is a scarce resource that is priceless.

Opsedale San Giovanni di Dio in Cagliari | Monumental Buildings

Here is a certain typology of a building; Healthcare facilities are taken into consideration. These are remarkable architecture that, according to the author, instil a cultural identity in its people.

These buildings are built with a very particular function in mind but still can be utilised for other uses, and these sturdy structures can stimulate private investments for the introduction of innovative functions.

Article in Focus: Adaptive Reuse of Abandoned Monumental Buildings as a Strategy for Urban Liveability - Sheet2
The front facade of the Ospedale

The old San Giovanni di Dio historical hospital in Cagliari, Italy, is an extraordinary innovative nineteenth-century building located in the historic part of the city. An investigation is done to analyse how effective it is to reutilise this building. The first step deals with reading documents, surveying the present status and understanding what already exists; the design concepts that shaped the building. In this case, the hospital has a relationship with the outskirts, and it is a key element for understanding the original constitutive design concept. 

Secondly, analysing the building’s current status to evaluate the historical and typological elements to be preserved. The third step concerns the restoration of the building; the architect evaluates which parts are relevant in present times to decide on what interventions have to be made to facilitate new functions. In the fourth phase, the opportunities and constraints are evaluated as extremely significant elements in defining compatible functions; its accessibility, views, noise pollution, connectivity with exterior and so on. 

Lastly, the scenarios for selecting new functions are analysed, and their main advantages are listed. Accordingly, a function that requires these attributes will be best suited for the adaptive reuse of the building.

Article in Focus: Adaptive Reuse of Abandoned Monumental Buildings as a Strategy for Urban Liveability - Sheet1

This research shows how the reuse of abandoned buildings and relatively open spaces are an opportunity for achieving more liveable and healthier cities through the regeneration of these inner-city areas. The article manages to persuade readers of the credibility of adaptive reuse by analysing a case study in Cagliari. However, the author does not dwell on the difficulties that entail adaptive reuse, the impending cost of maintenance and the physical constraints. Cherchi advocates how it can propel the urban liveability of a space and how it’s a lesser-known key tool that should be used in urban planning. 

Overall, he makes a convincing proposal on how adaptive reuse is a sustainable solution to redefining our cities and their spaces. He also lays down a set of parameters and tools that allow us to maximise the utilisation of these hidden gems.


Cherchi, Pier Francesco. “Adaptive Reuse of Abandoned Monumental Buildings as a Strategy for Urban Liveability.” ATHENS JOURNAL of ARCHITECTURE, vol. 1, no. 4, 30 Sept. 2015, pp. 253–270, 10.30958/aja.1-4-1.


Mary is a final year B.Arch. student eager to find her place in the multiverse that is architecture. She believes that words have a hidden ability to inspire, providing an in-depth perception. Deeply passionate about preserving the natural world and its heritage, she also finds solace in penning down her thoughts, travelling and enjoys being cooped up with a good book.