Edifices have remarkable plasticity and are being often used in ways outsiders cannot even think of. Changes of use aren’t necessarily associated with major cultural shifts. Buildings and parts of buildings are constantly being reassigned different functions depending on everyday routines by a body of users that do not act in a uniform way.

Since the origins of humankind (and beyond) we have been using things not specifically made for that purpose: a pebble becomes a hammer, a cave becomes a home. If we applied the linguistic theory of signification to architecture, we would come up with three approaches. The theory of intention would hold that the identity of buildings is given to them singlehandedly by their creators. The theory of reflection would hold that buildings have an identity in themselves, independent of their author’s intentions. The theory of construction would hold that the identity of buildings is constructed within the framework of their reception by people – and, most significantly, by the use they make of them.