Book Chapter

Architectural regeneration: An introduction


The combined processes of globalisation, urbanisation, environmental change, population growth and rapid technological development have resulted in an increasingly complex, dynamic and interrelated world in which concerns about the meaning of cultural heritage and identity, the depletion of natural resources, the increasing gap between rural and urban areas, and the impacts of climate change are increasingly prominent in the global consciousness. As the need for culturally and environmentally sustainable design grows, the challenge for professionals involved in the management of inherited built environments is to respond to this rapidly evolving context in a critical, dynamic and creative way. In addition to by now well-established historic conservation practices, the active regeneration, rehabilitation or revitalisation of existing buildings has emerged in recent years as an important field of architectural practice. At a time when regeneration policy has shifted to the recognition that ‘heritage matters’ and that the historic environment and creative industries are a vital driver of regeneration, an increasing workload of architectural practices concerns the refurbishment, adaptive re-use or extension of existing buildings. Architectural regeneration, which we define as: the collective activities of reusing, adapting and evolving existing buildings within an urban or rural context in ways that recognise the impacts these decisions and interventions have on the regeneration of a place, and that are underpinned by the principles of environmental, social and cultural sustainability, has clearly claimed its place as a fertile and productive means to respond to the need for heritage management and sustainable built environments in a dynamic and creative way. For many architectural practices working on existing buildings is a significant portion of their workload, averaging 50% across Europe, and reaching 70% in Italy (Van Clampoeel 2018). Maintaining and continuing to use already built buildings has become a component of policies focusing on meeting carbon emission reduction targets. Not only is work on existing buildings now an established component of architectural practice, it will also feature heavily in the future workload of many of today’s architecture graduates. This is why it is profoundly significant that training in the necessary skill set is a component of architectural education. So far, however, the study of architectural regeneration has lagged behind practice and our knowledge and understanding of the principles, approaches, methods and impacts of architectural regeneration remain poorly articulated. Literature on architectural regeneration remains limited and is mainly focused on the description and evaluation of process and elaboration through multiple case studies. The purpose of this book is to address this lacuna by presenting a balanced overview of what is happening at the present time, and establish a theoretical standpoint for architectural regeneration and explore its disciplinary interconnectedness and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Although the starting point of the book is the UK and Europe, it has a global reach. The chapters have been convened in a way that they can be read independently, but altogether they form a framework that defines what makes up architectural regeneration. Each chapter addresses different perspectives, scales and tools of architectural regeneration by means of detailed overviews of the current state of thinking and practice, and all are supported with case studies from around the world. The chapters focus on different scales and types of regeneration (urban, rural, suburban, temporary); discuss the economic, planning, policy and social contexts of regeneration processes; and investigate the design process and the role of the architect.

Attached files


Orbaşlı, Aylin
Vellinga, Marcel

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Architecture


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-01-24

All rights reserved.

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Architectural regeneration: An introduction
This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Architectural Regeneration [ISBN: 9781119340331] / edited by Aylin Orbasli, Marcel Vellinga (Wiley, 2020).


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