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Adaptive Architecture

Building Upon the Existing

September 16, 2022 – January 15, 2023

Transforming, adapting, repurposing – existing building stock offers a multitude of opportunities for future-oriented architectural solutions. The Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) on Schaumainkai in Frankfurt am Main has been undergoing its own remodeling and renovation since October 2021. In the interim, exhibitions and events will be held at DAM OSTEND, within a former office complex on Danziger Platz, next to the Ostbahnhof. The exhibition ADAPTIVE ARCHITECTURE – BUILDING UPON THE EXISTING  takes this opportunity to devote itself to a selection of contemporary international designs displaying the possibilities of versatile transformations and new uses of embodied architectural heritage.

By respecting the existing building stock, architecture can make a much-needed contribution to sustainability – after all, 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the building industry. Even though conversion and upgrading already account for two-thirds of construction work in Germany, the architectural and ecological potential of retrofitting and repurposing is far from being exhausted. Demolition and new construction are often still the default answers when dealing with structures where design and space no longer appear to meet modern standards, the current market situation or efficient and economical usage. The values, resources and ‘grey energy’ embodied in buildings since their construction often go unnoticed.

Transformative designs are as old as architecture itself. Although the culture of conversion has waned in recent decades, climate crisis and dwindling raw materials underscore the urgency of its revival – not least because the building industry consumes more resources than any other sector of the economy. Other challenges such as pandemics or population growth are changing the classic images and profiles of urban as well as rural areas. Retail department stores are increasingly disappearing from city centers; multi-story car parks and other infrastructure buildings are becoming obsolete due to new, sustainable mobility concepts – and even religious structures are affected by vacancies. At the same time, social change offers the potential for new functions and design forms that can be respectfully integrated into existing buildings.

ADAPTIVE ARCHITECTURE – BUILDING UPON THE EXISTING presents contemporary, international examples of clever and creative strategies in dealing with existing architecture, covering issues in six key areas. Experts provide insights into the many aspects influencing construction with existing stock, in both urban and rural contexts. A survey of selected Frankfurt structures also opens up new perspectives and raises questions designed to engage users and residents, and presents a comprehensive pool of utilizations, transformations and revitalization concepts.

Events and Activities
The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive program of events and educational activities. Further information will be available soon at dam-online.de.

Impressions of the exhibition


16. September 2022
15. January 2023
Veranstaltung Category:


DAM Ostend
Henschelstr. 18
Frankfurt / M., Hessen D-60314 Deutschland
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+49 (0)69 212-38844