In a broad sense, requalification implies the emergence of a new quality. The term qualify is here related to the term quality, referring to a list of essential or acquired properties of a person, object or space. Requalification, therefore, refers to a process of change in which a new quality, which is different from the previously attributed one, is acquired. It also includes possible recognition and reinterpretation of latent, pre-existing values. In addition, it seeks ways to enhance the complex value system of objects (Baudrillard 1996), which not only consists of quantitative (functional, economic) values but also includes qualitative ones, such as symbolic and sign values. Requalification can be understood as an aesthetic process in itself, a novel recovery of the aesthetics that emerge through processes that involve artistic sensibility. Such aesthetics celebrate the embodied energies and memories of (urban) artefacts.
In general, when it comes to design practice, many terms with the prefix ‘re’ refer to a resource approach strategy, such as reuse, recovery, recuperation, restoration, renovation, refurbishment, repurposing, readjustment, reconfiguration, remodelling and reassembling (Wong 2016). These terms are about action, aimed at extending the life of objects, buildings and spaces by creating a new cycle. Requalification can emerge from diverse design strategies prefixed ‘re’; however, its achievement is a reaching new quality and new aesthetic value which came up from the very juxtaposition of new and old.
The essence of requalification is not about what and how to do with existing urban artefacts, but more about how new meanings are triggered. As meaning is always at the core of culture, requalification clearly refers to cultural sustainability because it helps ensure the continuity of artefacts and at the same time stimulate new creativity to reinterpret and transform them. Here, the challenge regards the scale of the intervention. Many requalification practices are realised from the scales of artefacts up, towards the scales of architecture; thus, it could be applied at the urban scale and territory, so that the meaningful places can be created.
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Davisi Boontharm, “Aesthetics of Requalification: What I See in the Museums of Innocence”, in The Aesthetics of Architecture – Beyond Form. International Yearbook of Aesthetics, Volume 20, eds. Miško Šuvaković and Vladimir Mako (Belgrade: University of Belgrade - Faculty of Architecture, International Association for Aesthetics, The Society for Aesthetics of Architecture and Visual Arts of Serbia, 2020), 130-141.