The best renovations of 2023

From Cape Verde to Como, from Athens to New York, a selection of the projects published this year that best told us about the importance of rooting the life of architecture in the present, even after centuries-long histories.

Renovation is actually – especially in years like 2023 – a common theme in the majority of the projects chosen by Domus, whether it be interiors, entire houses, or wider-ranging architectures.
Reuse is the key, reinforcing the use value of spaces; “reusing, reducing, recycling” but also giving contemporary meaning to the existing, someway preventing historicization in the sense of burial in a past disconnected from today.

We selected projects from around the world better could shed light on the contemporary value of renovation, embracing a multiplicity of different histories that is almost impossible to map unitarily: from Berlin beginning to reappropriate the buildings of the former Tempelhof airport, to Oma adding a kind of aerial Lever House to Tiffany in New York, dealing with a less-than-discreet neighbor; museums in Cape Verde that regenerate the urban surroundings from which they are generated, and Italian collections that rediscover the evocativeness of hidden interiors; warehouses blossoming into collective housing and apartments that pour the traces of their history into the flow of present; icons like the Rinascente and the Velasca tower, material regenerations as well as  others we may only visit in digital worlds.

A reuse project in Basel turning a wine warehouse into collective housing

As part of a broader urban regeneration plan for the Basel Lysbüchel district, Zurich-based studio Esch Sintzel has transformed a wine warehouse into a residential building. Instead of demolishing and rebuilding, the architects have identified a design strategy that considers the existing building not as waste but as a spatial resource on which to graft a program of interventions aimed at reuse and contemporary living. Read more

The Tempelhof Airport tower in Berlin, finally renovated and open to the public

The opening of the tower of the former Tempelhof Airport (THF) in Berlin marks an important step in the redevelopment of the historic airport that closed its doors in 2008. Read more

OMA's “jewel box” on top of historic Tiffany & Co store on Fifth Avenue

OMA has completed the renovation of the Tiffany & Co flagship store in Manhattan, the historic ten-storey limestone building at 727 Fifth Avenue, New York, used by Tiffany & Co since 1940 as a department store. Read more

Brooklyn’s “batcave”, reopening after Herzog & de Meuron’s renovation

The “Batcave”, populated by writers and ravers, has been cleaned up and transformed into a non-profit space dedicated to artists and artisans. Read more

Atelier LUMA’s Magasin Électrique in Arles, conceived by Assemble and BC to be realised with waste

The founder of LUMA Arles, Maja Hoffmann (daughter of Luc Hoffmann, the famous pharmaceutical magnate and naturalist founder of the WWF) involved a multidisciplinary team of 30 researchers to renew – in collaboration with the London collective Assemble and the Belgian studio BC architects & studies, both experts in the reuse of building waste – the “Magasin Électrique”, the building on Lot 8 of the Parc des Ateliers, a former railway industrial site of Arles redeveloped in 2013 by the philanthropistRead more

The cultural center embracing and regenerating the heart of Mindelo, Capo Verde