chapter  2
16 Pages

What is Facadism?

There is no universal agreement about what constitutes facadism and this represents a major difficulty in reaching an understanding of the subject. The most common use of the term is in relation to the practice of preserving historic facades or creating replicas, and the construction of essentially new buildings behind. There are also occasions when the facades of new buildings do not exactly replicate any other particular facades, but are designed with the intention of contextualising new development by evoking a typical style. However, I have encountered the argument that a distinction should be drawn between facadism-an approach to new buildings where the main elevation is designed as a component in a larger streetscape, and not necessarily as an expression of the building behind-and facade retention-a philosophy wherein an existing facade is reused with a new building constructed behind.1 I take the view that both approaches are, in essence, examples of facadism and, also, that if a broad perspective on the subject is taken, there are other forms of development which can be regarded as manifestations of facadism. For example, it can be argued that this is the case where the internal gutting and total redesign of freestanding buildings or buildings with more than one principal elevation leave only the outer shell of the building. Powerful townscape elements which become redundant, such as historic churches and warehouses, often have to be extensively remodelled inside to give them a viable new life.