Last week, we shared the inspiring article that Oliver Wainwright wrote for The Guardian, ‘Demolition is an act of violence’:
“The timing couldn’t be more urgent. (…) The critical onus on architects and developers is to retrofit, reuse and reimagine our existing building stock, making use of the “embodied carbon” that has already been expended, rather than contributing to escalating emissions with further demolition and new construction.”
Wainwright is sounding the alarm: it is time for change. We need to appreciate what is already there and use these qualities to come up with better designs for the future. And this comes as no surprise. That is why at Mei, we are always building on the existing. Our designs make historical layers visible and allude to history that is no longer physically present. This way we are not only taking responsibility in reducing emissions, but we’re creating meaningful buildings that actively contribute to a better society.
Last week, we shared some special retrofit projects of Mei:
When going up to the loft apartments of the Cheese Warehouse, you’ll find the elevators hidden between two rustic old walls in the middle of the atrium. Originally separating the two buildings of the warehouse, the narrow street between the walls now functions as an entrance to the atrium and as elevator shaft. Preserving parts of the wall, we managed to keep the history of the warehouse alive while adding comfort for the residents.
This building, designed by Aronsohn, is a typical 1980s building with an austere, closed appearance. This can be traced back to its former function, as the building was originally used to store medicines. From 2006 to 2021 it was used as a municipal bicycle depot. The building has extraordinary characteristics, such as great heights and endless columns on the inside. After transformation, “MENU” will have a cathedral-like spaciousness, which makes it ideal for the planned markethall with loft apartments on top.
Photographer Ossip van Duivenbode visited the site to capture the current situation. View the photos on this page.
At the Jobsveem in Rotterdam, we breathed life back into the industrial warehouse. Since its completion in 1913, this national monument had a very closed character, intended to protect the stored goods from too much daylight, rain and wind. To create comfortable living- and working units, the main challenge of this transformation was to let daylight enter the building. Now, the Jobsveem has become a characteristic yet modern loft building.
Future vs the existing square at the Delft Kabeldistrict… What difference can be made while honoring and using what is already present! The visible fusion of old and new creates a strong identity that contributes to cohesion and connection between future entrepreneurs and residents.
With more than 20 architecture awards to its name, Fenix I quickly became our most well-known retrofit project. The building consists of three different parts: the original Holland America Line-warehouse, an intermediate layer with courtyard garden and a top layer with loft apartments. To preserve the existing warehouse while making it strong enough to hold the new volume, an innovative steel table construction was placed through the old warehouse.