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Adaptive Re-Use: The Architecture of Re-Purposing Existing Objects

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Collaborative Projects in Architectural Engineering Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.141.1 - 23.141.13



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Paper Authors


David Jan Cowan Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Dr. Cowan is the director of the Architectural Technology and Visualization Program at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is also the associate chair of the Engineering Technology Department. He has degrees in Art Education, Visual Arts and Sustainable Architecture. He is a LEED AP. Research/teaching interests are in: post-disaster reconstruction, BIM (Building Information Modeling), architectural visualization, sustainable community and construction practices, international service learning and energy simulation.

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Kirsten Hill IUPUI Student


Mary Ann Frank Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Mary Ann Frank is a lecturer of Interior Design.

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Adaptive Re-Use: The Architecture of Re-Purposing Existing ObjectsThis paper addresses the problem of homelessness and affordable housing and how students canbecome involved in this international and national problem within their studio and laboratorycourses. It also addresses sustainability and, in particular, the repurposing of existing objectsthat has recently gained popular attention in the design community with projects involvingshipping containers and other existing or found objects as innovative options for living and workenvironments.Specifically, this article delves into the reuse and design of aging trains to develop housing andwork environments in a specific community. This paper examines this topic within theframework of the literature that speaks to repurposing and adaptive re-use in the design field andplaces this project within the continuum of that context, meanwhile exploring the question ofhow to develop a suitable proof of concept that can leverage this into a studio or capstone projectas well as a community-based learning experience. The paper also examines and critiquesinternational approaches to repurposing and positions this discussion within the paper’sframework of investigation and data collection. Conclusions and an assessment of the value ofthis approach to solving the above noted problems will be reached based upon these varioussources.Also of unique consideration is an examination of the value of student service learning assistantsthat can be used to jump start these projects. Students in these positions are exposed to learningabout the value of service and community engagement and a rich and deep data source of thesestudents (collected over several years) will be tapped to examine the value of these assistants inthis context.

Cowan, D. J., & Hill, K., & Frank, M. A. (2013, June), Adaptive Re-Use: The Architecture of Re-Purposing Existing Objects Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19155

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