STS and Energy, Lisbon 2013
Historical buildings are an important source of local identity and form a connection to our past. It is a EU policy objective to conserve and redesign heritage buildings like prisons, military barracks, factories, stations, and
schools. Such redesign should also ensure reduction of energy use without compromising historical identity. In
this paper we conceptually and empirically investigate how the two conflicting aspirations unfold. Our starting
point is Actor-Network Theory, which considers technological artefacts as networks of heterogeneous actors.
In particular we elaborate the obduracy and scripts of buildings, to clarify how they resist change and invite a
specific use. We analyse the tensions between identity and energy conservation in four cases of restoration in
The Netherlands: military barracks in Nieuweschans, an energy neutral villa in Driebergen, a public library in
Franeker and a stable in Eerde. These buildings have recently undergone a restoration, with energy efficiency
as one of the main goals. Scripts and networks are traced by a combination of methods, such as studying
layout, materials and building history, and qualitative interviews with restoration-architects and users. We
found three generic strategies to conserve identity and energy. First, the compartmentalised nature of original
layouts helps to prevent energy loss and promote energy efficient use of the building, for example the original
layout of the military barracks was reinstalled to prevent energy loss. Secondly, recent annexes or other parts
with low historical value are often redesigned completely in a modern energy efficient way, such as the
(interior) garage in Nieuweschans and the rebuilt annex in the villa in Driebergen. Thirdly, when the original
scripts are very different from new uses, energy efficiency has been carefully ‘inscripted’ in the new design.
For example in Franeker and Eerde, where the new script invites users to day lit workspaces.