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How ‘reversible building’ is rethinking the use of buildings over time

Reversible building allows buildings to easily change their use according to the needs of the day. — Mr Twister/Shutterstock pic via ETX Studio

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PARIS, Jan 13 — In 2022, demolishing buildings to build new ones is no longer a sustainable strategy. From now on, architects should take into account the potential uses of a building over its lifetime, rather than defining them upstream. This is part of a concept known as “reversible building,” and it’s a model that is gradually taking shape. In France, the first building permit with no pre-defined building use has been issued to the Canal Architecture agency for a construction project in Bordeaux.

French architect Patrick Rubin has long advocated the reversible building model, and his hopes became reality in late December 2021. A building permit “without prior assignment” of building use in the city of Bordeaux has been accepted by the State.

This means that this future building has no predefined use. It can accommodate housing, office space or change completely over time. The founder of the Canal Architecture agency was very enthusiastic about this news: “It’s a small change that will make a big impact, because there will no longer be any point in demolition,” Patrick Rubin told the news site Le Moniteur.

This is one reason why “reversible building” is almost certainly a model that will one day become the norm. It enables design and construction that take into account the flexible, transformable nature of a building throughout its lifetime. — ETX Studio

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