Interior Design and Historic Buildings

Taut’s Home, Berlin, GERMANY

Interior Design is directly related to the wellness of inhabitants, or in a wider perspective, the functionality of a place for human activities. Interior design used to be a secondary consideration to architecture, and a concern mostly associated with new buildings. This speciality has not often been linked to conservation or restoration of historic buildings. But this concept is changing, and interior design is now taking on a more important role in the whole process of conservation. It is well established that use and function are key points in conservation.

Many historically recognized buildings all around the world are inhabited or used daily in a specific function.  Owners of such buildings frequently need not only to respect historical architectural and design specifications, but also make some changes, in order to adapt it to modern day life and needs based on new uses of a particular building.

For example, the owner of a Victorian home may want to renovate it and may be worried about the original radiators or other changes that can be made in the bathrooms, to be more comfortable, efficient and compatible with modern systems. Or a community association may want to restore an abandoned, historically recognized and listed building to make it suitable for several functions. They would need to know what can be done with the interiors to fulfil these functions within the restoration limits allowed.

Heritage laws are restrictive and restoration principles must be followed, so interior designers need to be specialized in conservation of historic buildings. There are few degrees or postgraduate courses covering both subjects –one of them is the UK National Design Academy’s Heritage Interior Design Course-. Some countries have long tradition in this area of knowledge, and other have a short one. In Spain, the contents of Interior Design degrees were not fixed until 2009. In such cases this can be seen as a problem or it might be an opportunity for new students looking for a viable future in a growing field.

 

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