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Rehabilitate - Recover - Recycle

Holidays are an ideal family moment to make big decisions, taking advantage of the family time to create challenges and promote changes for the new year ahead. Our house is always a present theme, either because one of our children is going to change school cycle and needs to adapt the room, or because we want to give a new environment to the house or because we lived abroad and come back here and find a house in need of changes, or because we simply want to give a small touch of change that gives a new lease of life to the new year of work that is coming.


In today's article we talk about the various types of operations that we can do in our home and that produce change. These operations have several scales of intervention.


Rehabilitation is the deepest level because rehabilitation means to enable again, to enable to a certain use, to a certain context, it can be a return to the origins, ensuring the historical authenticity of the property or an evolution of its use, or of its history. To give or give back life to your property.


The rehabilitation of a property or flat goes through some important steps. Houses are inhabited machines, in this sense it is important that everything works properly and above all that no money is lost in inconsequential works, i.e., it is not desirable that after the completion of the works and the money invested the infrastructure needs intervention, which would imply thousands of Euros in losses in the opening of walls and new coatings. Or that suddenly the roof starts leaking water. It is therefore advisable to first of all analyse the state of the technical infrastructures, water, electricity, gas, heating, sewers and other specialities that may be functioning in the house. At the same time, it is equally important to look at the structure. There are signs that may indicate faults or tampering with the structure or pathologies that indicate it is damaged. Next we should analyse the state of conservation of the roof, gutters, guttering and waterproofing.


The next step that I advise my clients is to look at energy efficiency, frames and insulation and active and passive solar protection and air conditioning systems. Finally after all the problems identified in the issues mentioned above we are in a position to start the project, making sure that the priority in the Budget goes to solving operational problems and that the more serious problems of the future are prevented. The structure will hold, the infrastructure will work, rainwater ingress is avoided and energy efficiency is guaranteed. We now know what budget we have for the changes we want to implement in the house in terms of layout, coverings and furniture.


Rehabilitation processes usually imply the development of alteration projects at the City Hall where the property is located, as they are processes that easily promote structural adjustments and/or façade alterations.



Simpler are the Recovery processes.

Recovering means restoring the vitality of other times to the property. Generally, there is no change of use and they are less interventionist operations insofar as the resolution of problems is promoted in the first place.


They are simpler interventions, but they don't exempt us from going through the same process of evaluation of the built that we follow in the rehabilitation.


When restoring a bathroom that has suffered a serious infiltration, the state of all the technical infrastructures should be evaluated. Otherwise, after the intervention and the installation of new coverings and equipment, another problem may arise, which will lead to a new intervention and the loss of all the capital invested in the previous intervention.


It is very important to plan and have a team of professionals that can help you make the right decisions.


It is also considered recovery to change some coatings that may be aged or damaged, new painting, etc.


The concept of Recovering can go deeper.

If we think of a heritage building like a convent for example and its transformation into a hotel, we go through a first stage of focusing on the recovery of the heritage, followed by a second phase of rehabilitating it insofar as we intend to give it a new life, that is, to enable it again, but in this case to become a hotel.


If you are thinking of restoring your flat or house, I would advise you to first make a checklist of everything that needs to be checked, followed by everything you intend to do in terms of intervention.


For example: I want to recover the shed that I have a garden because I would like to make a gym separate from the house.


1. What state is the shed in?

2. Does it have any infrastructure?

3. How is the roof?

4. Do you have waterproofing and insulation? Are they in good condition? 5.

5. Does the Shed already have a bathroom? Or do I have to build one? Is there a sewer?


We could consider this operation as a rehabilitation, but building a shed that should already work in an open space and may or may not already have a bathroom fits perfectly in the concept of recovery, because basically we want to recover the existing structure.


Let's move on to the last concept, recycling.


What is Recycling in Architecture and how do we transpose this concept into space?

I acknowledge the merit of many architects and decorators who today favour this type of recycling with quality.


Without wanting to go too much into this field of decoration that besides not dominating it has its own space in this newsletter, here is a set of ideas easy to visualize to help everyone's reflection.


Imagine that a beautiful old door can be a good bed headboard, a Singer sewing machine can be a sideboard or coffee table, a set of shutters can be a screen, an old hat box can become a lamp, a mannequin can be a hanger and why can't a pot become a sink and a bowl a ceiling lamp?


In recovery and rehabilitation there are many opportunities to give new life to elements of the house that we use in our daily life and that can completely change a space.


In demolitions you can find real gems, whether in terms of coverings or in terms of architectural elements that can make a difference in an architectural project.


The old doors can make the counterpoint of a modern architecture with a classical note and placed in a sliding system working as a mobile panel that gives life to a particular environment.


I'm looking for an antique sash window for a project that I'm working on, to make a pass-through for the kitchen of a client who wants a different note in the articulation with the dining room.


I remember another client used a big stone slab that he discovered inside a wall as a shower stall, in that house he already had the old stone kitchen countertop with the sink also incorporated in stone as a countertop in the social bathroom.


In terms of coverings we can also recycle. A client I had had a house with extraordinary tiles, unfortunately some of the panels had fallen over time when she took possession of the house and the tiles were in minimal pieces, but they were in fact very beautiful and with unique colours. He experimented with applying these minimal bits to a wall in a random and disordered way with a unique result.


Other examples: Stone stonework makes some extraordinary staircases.


Railway timbers make unique and resistant retaining walls, an old guardrail on a staircase or a balcony can create a different accent. The wooden trusses if they are in good condition can make a difference in the ceiling of a room. There are those who use old tiles in construction to give a better framing to houses in historic centres. And why not use the stones of a kitchen chimney as a doorway in a house?


The limit of Recycling in Architecture is infinite and is bounded by three factors.

1. When we don't have the object, we have to find the right object to apply;

2. The Language of the house where we are going to apply works with this kind of operation;

3. The Quality of the solution to develop.


Article written for the edition 17 da E-Magazine TGP | Corporate Magazine The Golden Phoenix Luxury Real Estate & Investments

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