Jacques Herzog on the adaptive reuse of pre-existing ideas and objects
BASEL, 11 July 2018 – On the occasion of the recent opening to the public of Tai Kwun, Centre for Heritage & Arts, Jacques Herzog made a statement on the topic of heritage and adaptive reuse:
“What we have done in Hong Kong is to transform a former Police Station into a Cultural Centre. In Hong Kong and also in Mainland China this is still a totally new approach to architecture - an unusual thing to do because normally old buildings and entire neighbourhoods are being removed and being replaced by new ones. The principle is TABULA RASA. For us architects, also in the West, it was quite similar until not so long ago. Modernism was making pre-existing things look old, shabby and uncool. In daily life we all still carelessly throw away things we use every day instead of recycling and reintegrating them in a somewhat appropriate or even creative way. In the 1970s, when we started our practice, we first had to find and define our own architectural language. Re-Inventing and Re-Using pre-existing ideas and objects - not necessarily of a heroic period of the past, but simply of what we found in front of us – has become an essential element within our vocabulary since those early days and projects...think of early projects such as the ‘Marktplatz Basel’, ‘Stone House Tavole’, later of course ‘Tate Modern’ or now ‘Tai Kwun’. We adopted this strategy of working WITH instead of AGAINST the existing material world of objects because we found it natural and inspiring, often resulting in unexpected and innovative results.
There is no fundamental difference for such an approach, whether you do it in Basel or in London, in Liguria or in Hong Kong.”
Jacques Herzog, July 2018