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Ijla and Brostrom    

Full Length Research Paper

The Sustainable Viability of Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings: the experiences of Two World Heritage Old Cities; Bethlehem in Palestine and Visby in Sweden

Akram Ijla and Tor Brostrom

Uppsala University-Gotland Campus, Sweden

Corresponding Email Address: kramijla@yahoo.co.uk

Received January 7, 2015; Accepted February 13, 2015


The paper aims at investigating the viability of adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings (religious, Nobel Architecture, residential, commercial, and other) and the impact it has on the sustainability of existing environment in Bethlehem and Visby. There are many historic buildings in Bethlehem and Visby that are unique in their history, architecture, and built environment. This paper explores the importance of adaptive reuse by looking at several examples of reused historic buildings in both cities. The examples illustrate the viability of adaptive reuse in terms of sustainability; economic impact, affordable function, vitality of social life, and usability of existing urban resources and energy saving. The paper advocates policy makers is to increase the adaptive reuse policy within abandoned old cities as an integral tool of regeneration and sustainability policies. A comparative study of Palestine (Bethlehem) and Sweden (Visby) focuses on the experiences of two cities where conversions have registered a significant impact in terms of new facilities and businesses creation and has had a positive impact on the life both city centers. A survey of building owners, governors and local community leadership in Bethlehem old city and the old city of Visby, interviews, and a review of literature concerning adaptive reuse of historic buildings are used as a tool of conducting qualitative and comparative research. The researcherís perception is that adaptive reuse with social life regeneration, economic development activities, and energy efficiency serve the key concepts of sustainability; in addition to the local community perception of adaptive reuse as a viable option to demolition and redevelopment of existing facilities. The research recommends key implications for local governments in Sweden and Palestine as they eventually provide a theoretical framework that can be incorporated in the decision-making processes for adaptive reuse projects.

Keywords:Adaptive Reuse, Misused, Regeneration, Revitalization, Economic Development and Sustainability.

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