Memory and innovation: Modern interventions in listed buildings

Modern interventions

Intervention projects in listed buildings around the world show how it is possible to look to the future without forgetting the past.

Historical heritage x function

When a building carries within it some historical, artistic or cultural value, it is common for it to go through the listing process and thus become a public cultural heritage. This process requires the maintenance of its characteristics and its architectural identity in order to preserve history.

Listed buildings are, without a doubt, of paramount importance for the preservation of our history. But when the structure is maintained in its entirety, there is a risk of exposing the building to disuse and rapid degradation. This is because, often, the structure idealized for its original function becomes obsolete.

For this reason, around the world, there are several examples of projects that dared to give new meaning to these buildings with modern and contrasting architectural interventions. In an almost poetic way, they find function and efficiency in the union between past and future.

See some examples below.

Royal slaughterhouse in Porcuna, Spain

In 2004, in the city of Porcuna, Spain, an old slaughterhouse (dating from the 16th century) underwent an intervention designed by the architect Pablo Manuel Millán.

On the land, measuring just 163.5 m², there was an enormous archaeological treasure: from Roman aqueducts in the horizontal plane to a medieval tower, passing through the ruins of a building shaken by an earthquake in 1755.

The project was born with the intention of uniting all these historical fragments with a simple, clean and modern architecture. Generating a rich and charming contrast, it provides a walk surrounded by a contemporary atmosphere, but with windows to the past.

Royal slaughterhouse

The new architecture, at the same time, superimposes and unites the ruins, creating new spaces and uses: the exhibition room and archives.

Royal Slaughterhouse 2

Extinct Light power station, São Paulo

The architecture firm Triptyque carried out, at the request of Red Bull, the complete restoration of a defunct Light power station, built in 1920 in Praça da Bandeira, in São Paulo.

The project respected the restrictions imposed by the building’s listing, carried out in 2002. Even so, it added contemporary elements that add the function and aesthetics expected of what would become a center of culture.

The new metallic marquee appears to float above the building, giving a futuristic air to the historic building.

Light power station

Today, the building houses music recording studios, art studios, exhibition spaces and events.

Convent Madre de Dios in Seville, Spain

The sol89 office bet on a more fluid and abstract concept for the intervention at the Madre de Dios Convent in Seville, Spain.

The historic building houses contemporary art exhibitions. The project’s proposal is to build an environment that follows the nature of art: unpredictable, without barriers. Its versatility allows the building to transform itself at each exhibition, at each different moment and need.

Convent Madre de Dios

The most discreet intervention, almost unpretentious, reveals the office’s intention: “to show what really matters: material, space and light instead of styles and decorations”.

Convent Madre de Dios 2