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As the need to embrace sustainable living becomes increasingly urgent, how are architects, designers and urban planners integrating circular solutions into their practice? How can such a resource-intensive industry navigate the transition to a green economy? And what are the best strategies to drive change and implement a more conscious approach to urban development? These questions are at the centre of Roca Gallery’s latest topic of the month, “Renovate/Reuse/Regenerate”.

With the passage of time, all things deteriorate or the character of their use changes. Until now it has been common to throw objects away when they are worn out or broken; to demolish buildings when they are outdated and dysfunctional; to raze entire neighborhoods for urban development; to destroy natural areas for new construction. Today we have realized that conservation is one of the keys to a sustainable future, which will only be possible if architects, designers and other professionals work together on strategies based on renovation, reuse and regeneration of both the built environment and the natural landscape.

In “Renovate/Reuse/Regenerate”, Roca Gallery explores new ways to advance this debate at a critical stage in its development, presenting the views of a transdisciplinary panel of leading experts in a series of commissioned articles published weekly on the platform until the end of June.

Among the articles already available, Atelier RUA’s founding partner Rui Velho Didier discusses creative ways to reuse, reinterpret, reinvent and adapt buildings with an honest and clear concern for resource management, while award-winning architect Mario Cucinella examines how research in architecture can be a catalyst for educating the general public about the circular economy.

Coming from a different angle, Roberto Converti, architect and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Design at UADE, has penned a piece on urban regeneration, proposing a new model of sustainable territorial development for port areas. Meanwhile, architectural journalist, curator and editor Apurva Bose Dutta has written about the growing relevance of conservation, restoration and adaptive reuse in India, defending its role in the preservation of the country’s rich architectural identity.

Looking ahead

Further on, Michael Adlerstein, Columbia Professor and former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, analyses the strategies that were employed to recycle and retrofit the historical UN compound in New York, a project which he oversaw from design to execution. Urbanist, curator and writer Sarah Ichioka discusses “middle-aged” buildings and how we can best embrace their values and address their shortcomings, and architect Rosa Sobral explores ways to integrate contemporary design in the restoration of buildings without erasing their history. This is an idea shared by UPC Professor of Structural Architecture David Garcia, whose article defends the importance of sustainable rehabilitation and its role in a circular economic model.

The principles “renovate, reuse, regenerate” also underlie Hattie Hartman’s essay on the concept of “zero demolition”. An architect, urban planner and journalist, Hartman is the Architects Journal’s Sustainability Editor and leads AJ’s RetroFirst campaign, which champions reuse in the built environment.

As part of Roca Gallery’s continued commitment to supporting the best emerging talent from universities, the platform will feature an article by IED Madrid’s Product Design student Laura González Cardenal about the need to rethink product durability and manufacturing processes. On a similar note, architect Søren Nielsen will reflect on the opportunities brought about by a new understanding of materials and their lifecycle, discussing Vandkunsten Architect’s landmark project Rebeauty and the idea of repurposing waste components from renovation projects.

“Renovate/Reuse/Regenerate” is the latest in a series of monthly and bi-monthly topics that explore pressing global issues from the point of view of design, architecture, innovation and sustainability. All articles are available online in both English and Spanish at www.rocagallery.com.

Furthermore, in the context of the current edition of Roca’s international design competition jumpthegap®, Rocagallery.com also features a series of new articles written by several members of the competition’s jury. The list of authors includes influential figures such as Pritzker Prize winner and jury president Shigeru Ban (“Humanitarian Projects”), Paul Priestman, designer and chairman of PriestmanGoode (“Designing Public Bathrooms”), Somi Kim, senior director of Healthcare Solutions at Johnson & Johnson Design (“Teen Toilet Training”) and Andrea Trimarchi/Simone Farresin, founders of Formafantasma design studio (“(Un)Neutral Design Now!”). Their articles address the challenges of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in line with jumpthegap®’s vision and mission.

Powered by Roca, world leader in the design, production and distribution of products for the bathroom space, Rocagallery.com is the digital concept behind the Roca Galleries. Present in Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Shanghai and Beijing, the galleries serve as meeting points where industry experts and enthusiasts can share knowledge and best practices. Since its launch in 2018, the online platform has featured over 170 diverse voices, including writers, urbanists, academics and artists, and has become a reference for news, trends and quality content in the fields of architecture and design.

“Renovate/Reuse/ Regenerate”: Strategies for a more sustainable future in debate at Rocagallery.com

Roca’s online platform for contemporary debate and research on architecture, design and sustainability presents its latest topic of the month.
Weekly articles explore circular solutions for buildings, materials and landscapes.