While I was in Toronto over the holidays, I took the chance to visit the Wychwood Barns (that I spoke of in an earlier Architecture Monday post). I wanted to see for myself what it was like, and get a chance to visit the interiors, and see if it was the glorious adaptive reuse project I made it to be in my mind.
And it rocks.
The middle of the “barns” was turned into an interior street, complete with doors leading to the various residents of barns 2 and 4 – a restaurant, offices, education, artist studios, and more. Bisected above by a long skylight, the space is inviting and the patina of age from the barn’s previous use really lends a great air of approachability. Modern signage contrasts well with this aged background, while old streetcar signage is turned into a sculpture of sorts. With roll-up doors at either end, the street can fully open and take advantage of the landscaped grounds nearby.
Other touches of the past also remain, including safety signage (befitting the industrial history of the shed), the old doors to barn 4 (turned into a (inaccessible to me that day) greenhouse), and the empty shell of barn 5 that forms the axis pathway to the whole site.
That this was a successful intervention was evident even in the middle of a weekday afternoon during a holiday shutdown. Several families were out and using the grounds, with children playing and adults reading, and when I encountered the janitor within, he struck up an immediate conversation, and we talked easily about the building.
The adaptive reuse lover in me had a field day. Totally loved it.
Bonus photo! Behold, the adorable defibrillator robot guardian: