Adaptive re-use of university buildings : a case study of four academic buildings on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Natal.
This study investigates the capacity of buildings to be adapted when required by changing circumstances or situations. Furthermore it has special reference to buildings constructed for academic teaching and research purposes. At the outset the author reviews the reasons for buildings outlasting their original functions and identifying the various possible causes for the change . The ability to sustain modifications and the varying extent of the modification is established with examples being cited of both commercial and academic typologies. The thesis then explores some examples of early adaptions of buildings such as basilicas and the influence on the architecture of the early and later Christian churches. In later years cathedrals and monasteries became the precursor of the early universities that were born out of the evolution of secular teaching and education and the need for repositories for books. The architecture and form of these buildings was dictated largely by the development of the towns into cities and the concurrent need to expand these centres of learning . The history of the University of Natal is discussed from the years preceding its formal inception and subsequent interventions relating to the development of the Pietermaritzburg campus . A model upon which a measure may be made of four buildings of differing era's and occupancy are discussed identifying their original plan form and the changes that have ensued over three decades. These modifications are critically evaluated and tabulated graphically thereby indicating the comparative changes as a ratio of the area of the change against the area of the entire building. The notable Old Main Building was found to be a rigid building , built in load bearing brickwork and large high ceilinged spaces that sub-divide with ease while ensuring the retention of its integrity. Conversely the Main Science Building , a reinforced concrete framed structure with brick in-fill, is of an amorphous plan shape that lends itself to modification at the expense of its external character. The Rabie Sanders Building , a formal neo-classical building of framed reinforced concrete construction with face brickwork in-fill and a rigid facade does not, by virtue of its plan form and elevation , have the capacity for external alteration but has the potential for extensive internal. Finally the New Arts Building , a linear five storey precast reinforced concrete structure with free standing continuous modular window provides infinite variability of the interior whilst the exterior remains unaffected and there is no possibility of extending. The changes, varying in complexity and extent, clearly indicate that the buildings are indeed malleable and with creative planning, the changes can have an enhancing impact on the internal spaces. This information should considered as a working guide to provide the institution with pointers for the future design of campus buildings.