Retail reuse of historic buildings

Bie Plevoets

Retail reuse of historic buildings


This thesis aims to contribute to a broader research on the tension between heritage and retail in historic city centres in Europe. 2 research questions are worked out: Which type of buildings can be suitable for retail reuse? And how can retail design respect the historic value of the monument? Although retail design is an interdisciplinary activity which still needs extensive research in the field of urban planning, retail design, legislation, economics, public funding systems, etc. the focus of this thesis is on conservation. Because of my background as interior architect this research does not start form the largest scale (urban dimension) but from the scale of the building (the interior).

The first part of the thesis exists of a general approach towards retail-reuse of various historic building types, based on literature review and illustrated with practical examples. As a result, a classification scheme indication the different buildings types that can be suitable for retail-reuse is set up. Specific characteristics for each typology are included in the scheme. The second part of the thesis exits of 3 case studies: Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht (NL), Selexyz Verwijs in The Hague (NL) and Hema in Tongeren (BE). Each case is analyzed in a structured manner and is evaluated on 3 different levels: (1) the typological characteristics, (2) the specific qualities of the monument and (3) the after-life of the project.

To conclude, 9 guidelines are set up, based on comparison of literature and case studies. On the one hand, these guidelines could help retail designers in dealing with the complexity of the design of a store within a monumental building, on the other hand the guidelines could be applied by monument boards to evaluating retail-reuse projects as currently conservators exercise rather restrained towards retail activities in monumental buildings. By providing a framework for evaluation, a more open attitude towards retail as new use for historic buildings could be possible.




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Universiteit of Hogeschool
MaNaMa Conservation of Monuments and Sites
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