14 April 2022 – “Why, then, does most of our mature apartment building stock remain undeveloped, when we know that co-and re-design can make a powerful contribution toward effective housing solutions?” ask Sandra Karina Löschke and Hazel Easthope in the latest issue of Architecture Australia. In their article The problem of ageing housing: a co- and re-design approach, they describe the renovation of the post-war splayed apartment blocks in Rotterdam Ommoord.

Their answer to this question is: “One obstacle is that transforming existing buildings is much more complex than designing new ones – as the lengthy building process at Ommoord indicates. There are three main reasons for this.

First, co- and re-design requires expertise from multiple disciplines and stakeholders, who need to collaborate effectively to deliver on social, environmental and economic objectives and standards.

Second, the majority of apartment buildings are privately owned by multiple apartment owners who act as the client. This means that redesign projects are initiated and led by laypeople with limited expertise and few effective mechanisms to attain consensus. This can result in lengthy delays and frustrate entire projects, which presents a considerable risk.

Third, from a disciplinary perspective, co- and re-design is a new approach that challenges the obsolescence-based, top-down thinking of mainstream architecture, which sees existing building stock as a barrier to progress and the voices of end users and other stakeholders as an impediment to good design.”

That’s all pretty clear. To work!