Using Adaptive Reuse to Scale the Urban Future

Chuck Wolfe uses the urban scale adaptive reuse of the Roman Emperor Diocletian's retirement palace in Split, Croatia to argue for blending the past and future on a broader scale.
February 8, 2012, 10am PST | Charles R. Wolfe | @crwolfelaw
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Writing in The Atlantic Cities, Wolfe asks "how will the city of tomorrow adapt to the city of today" and suggests how we should think beyond limited geographies, time frames and lifetimes when we discuss urban redevelopment options.

He suggests Split, Croatia as a necessary reference, where the survival and reuse of historic elements tell a valuable tale of sustainability, a "confluence of past and present... not often mentioned in the American dialogue... visiting Diocletian's Palace and reflecting on how the old can blend (and, in fact, be adapted to suit) the new provides incomparable perspective".

Among the points raised in the article: Seeing such a venue firsthand can add value to building restoration approaches, or even already innovative, largely replacement-style redevelopment of areas like a former military bases, airports or an institutional campus. The scale of adaptation in Split confirms how humans can be at home and enriched by large-scale incorporation of the past as well as provide lessons for new zoning approaches and property transaction stakeholders.

Wolfe concludes:

"Throughout history, cities have fulfilled central cultural, economic and religious roles as both centers of settlement and qualitative measures of human habitat. To reinvent them (or juxtapose the best of the past), we need to know where we have been and where we are going, at more than a building scale."

Thanks to Chuck Wolfe

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Published on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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