The man-made rural landscape is to a very high degree basically a landscape of farms and farming. Farm buildings play an important role in the image of the rural landscape. Over the last 40–50 years, the number of farmers and farms has decreased all over Europe. At present more than half of all the farm buildings in The Netherlands have no longer a function for agriculture. These buildings are used now for either residential purposes or a combination of residence and some kind of non-agricultural economic activity. A change of function usually leads to a change of the interior and exterior of the building. Data and insights from an extensive study of that phenomenon in the province of Friesland in the north of The Netherlands show what happen to the farm buildings after conversion. How do public authorities in The Netherlands look at this phenomenon that changes rural areas? However, the most important actor in this process of change is the owner/resident of such a place. What are their motives for keeping up or dramatically changing the traditional farm buildings? After the functional change, many of these buildings are more or less fossilised in their original form, some are turned into villas which hardly remind us of their agricultural past. Is the re-use a form of urbanisation or is it part of a process of rural revitalisation? Does the reshaping of these structures lead to a loss of the rural heritage? This article looks into the architectural, economical, social and landscape effects of changes due to re-use. The general outcomes of that are used to discuss the future of rural areas.
Author Keywords: Farm buildings; Urbanisation; Rural landscape