Drawing is Not Enough. Design Tools for the Reuse of Modernist Buildings

  • Christian Gaenshirt Department of Architecture, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou


This paper[i] re-discusses the question of design tools, a metaphor that lately has been used for different things such as simple objects, media, cultural techniques, computer programs, formal principles or thinking strategies. After reviewing recent research on design tools, a taxonomy will be proposed. The key tool for the reuse of modernist buildings though remains the building itself, and its related narratives.


[i] The author would like to thank Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, in Suzhou, China, for generously founding his work on this research, as well as his travel to participate in the RMB conference in April 2018 at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He also would like to thank Shayne Jones for disucssing and revising earlier versions of this text.


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Biografia Autor

Christian Gaenshirt, Department of Architecture, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou

Dr. Christian Gänshirt is an architect and writer from Berlin, Germany. He is a Senior Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou since 2013. He was leading its Masters of Architectural Design programme from the teaching start until achieving full RIBA part 2 validation in spring 2018. Interested in sustainable ways of making architecture, he initiated the Department's building materials collection and co-founded the XJTLU Materials Library.

Gänshirt authored the first monograph on design tools, which has been translated to English and Chinese, and is being used internationally in architectural education (Tools for Ideas, Basel; Boston: 2007, Beijing: 2011, Berlin: 2012). He volunteered as a co-editor of the Internet architectural theory magazine [www.cloud-cuckoo.net] and a peer reviewer for Routledge, Candide (RWTH Aachen), and TU Delft. He contributes to magazines, journals and national newspapers, and published in Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Archithese, Bauwelt and Stadtbauwelt, Graz Architecture Magazine, and L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui.

He is lecturing and a visiting critic at architecture schools internationally. He was a Visiting Professor at The University of Hong Kong, SAR China, and at Kassel University, Germany. He taught at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech), U.S.A., the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK), Hanover University, and the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) in Germany.

Practising architecture for many years, Gänshirt was involved in urban and architectural design projects for housing, industry, culture, and large-scale public administration. He worked with the architect José Paulo dos Santos in Oporto, Portugal and was a project architect in the office of Álvaro Siza in Oporto. He is licensed and registered by the Berlin Chamber of Architects (AKB) since 1996, when he set up his own practice.

He received his Dr.-Ing. (Ph.D. equivalent) for a dissertation on design theory from the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus, Germany. He earned his architecture diploma (MArch equiv.) from Karlsruhe University (now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), Germany, and studied under Luigi Snozzi at the École Polytechnique Féderale de Lausanne, Switzerland.