by Graeme Brooker. Bloomsbury, January 2017. 224 p. ill. ISBN 9781472567130 (pbk), $49.95.

Reviewed September 2017
Gabriella Karl-Johnson, Architecture Librarian, Princeton University, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

brookerUtilizing existing structures in the creation of new architectural spaces can provide economic and environmental advantages, but it can also lead to provocative and pleasing new architectural interventions that would not be possible in a strictly-new construction. People have been reusing and adapting buildings for as long as architecture has existed, but in the last two decades some architects have begun to address building alteration and reuse in ways that more deliberately engage existing spaces and materials. A new work entitled Adaptation: Strategies for Interior Architecture and Design by Graeme Booker, Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art, UK, addresses some of these contemporary architectural alterations through forty global architectural case studies.

Booker groups the featured projects into eight “strategies;” sensibly organized descriptive categories outlining a common approach or theme, which also correspond to the chapter titles: Reprogramming, Intervention, Superuse, Artifice, Installation, Narrative, On/Off Site, and Insertion. Each chapter begins with a two-page explanatory essay providing theoretical context and description of each strategy, weaving the characteristics of the relevant strategy into a comprehensive project description. Five case studies are provided for each strategy, with four to six pages dedicated to each project. The images provided with each project profile range from standard plan and section drawings to site plans, process diagrams, circulation plans, and colorful, affective renderings, all at varying scales; all project profiles also include photographs. The majority of the projects were opened after 2010; the earliest project date is 1997. With a range of architects and designers ranging from famous to novice, the projects vary in scale and scope from a room-sized installation to a multi-story, city-block-sized hotel. While the title implies a discussion of interior architecture rather than complete building design, Adaptation appears to draw this distinction due to a common thread of working within existing building shells.

The most unique and valuable aspect of Adaptation resides in the organizing structure of the book and the informative essays running throughout each thematic chapter. While some of the strategies Booker describes are somewhat self-evident to an architectural audience -- for example, “Reprogramming” or “Insertion” -- other strategies such as “Superuse” or “Narrative” prompt the reader to consider new concepts and connections between projects. Adaptation is bound to be useful to architecture and interior design students, due to the clear descriptions of design tactics and strategies. A work that closely compares in format and scope is Christian Schttich’s Building in Existing Fabric (2004), however Schittich’s work, like many others, presents a series of captivating projects without the aid of descriptive categories, which can leave a student bewitched but overwhelmed. Adaptation is highly recommended as an addition to the subject area of building reuse and architectural alteration. Includes a glossary, index, and bibliography.