Adaptive re-use Print

Design Outcome

​​​​​​​​​​​Design Checklist​

  1. Consideration has been given as to whether the existing buildings on a site are suitable for adaptable re-use
  2. Adapted buildings respect the valued architectural features of the original building whilst accommodating contemporary activities


Adaptive re-use refers to the alteration, upgrade and renovation of an existing building for a new mix of uses.

The retention and adaption of older buildings may be more financially viable, environmentally sustainable and marketable than undertaking a new development. As the construction industry has developed greater expertise in undertaking these types of projects, adaptive reuse has become easier to implement.​​

Better Design Practice

Consider whether existing buildings on a development site are suited to adaptive reuse.
Adaptive reuse projects provide an excellent opportunity for mixing retail, commercial, and residential spaces as many older buildings are built of high quality materials and have generous floor-to-ceiling heights. In addition, older buildings frequently have modular structural framing and floor layouts, both of which may be easily adapted to commercial and residential use. For example a spacious room with high ceiling heights makes a dramatic living space that can be turned into a loft-style dwelling by adding a mezzanine floor.​​

Consider if an existing building’s character may be beneficial from a marketing standpoint.
Retrofitted buildings are often seen as desirable places to live and work due to their high quality character and design.​

Contribute to sense of place and identity by retaining and reusing existing buildings.

Successful regeneration programmes focus on the retention and adaptation of high quality existing buildings. Adapted buildings should consider the history of an area while also contributing to its intended future character.​

Consider whether loft spaces are a viable development option. When creating loft spaces ensure that:
  • Lofts offer high quality natural light and space.
  • Existing unique architectural and construction details are maintained and contribute positively to the aesthetic quality and character of a loft space.
  • Where possible loft dwellings have access to outdoor living spaces such as rooftop terraces.

Rules of Thumb

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