Our first Building on the Built of 2023 got underway on Wednesday evening, as we welcomed Professor and Head of Interior Design at The Royal College of Art, Graeme Brooker. In this lecture series we invite guest speakers to discuss their approach and thoughts on the reuse and reinvention of existing buildings. 

In a packed ACAVA Lombard Road, Graeme’s presentation revolved around his recent publication ‘50/50 – Fifty Words for Reuse’. The book traces the etymology of architectural terminologies and breaks down their relevance within today’s contemporary discourse. Graeme reiterated his ideals on utilising what current built stock we have, rather than demolition or building from scratch.

Graeme highlighted a few examples from his book such as the current zeitgeist buzz-word ‘retrofit’. Whilst understanding of the pertinent intentions of the word, Graeme dissected the origins and concluded that retrofit has been ‘hijacked to describe a sickly nostalgia-inducing practice’. A word that perhaps doesn’t do its definition justice. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Graeme lauded the term ‘kintsugi’. Kintsugi references the visible fixing and alterations of an object or building. Graeme discussed how repair and imperfection should be celebrated in architecture as a memory of the past in mending for future.

A questions and answer session at the end of the talk stoked fascinating insights into the emotional resonance words can have to individuals when describing the built environment. While certain terminologies might sound jarring or intrusive, they can hold personal significance. 

We would like to thank Graeme and everyone who came along for contributing to such a memorable night. Details on our next event will be released soon!