Posts Tagged ‘adaptive reuse’

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Architecture Monday

June 3, 2019

For many years my friends and I would travel to Toronto to visit, among other things, the few gaming stores to get our fill of RPG materials.  Taking the subway from Scarborough, we’d walk through then from the Eaton’s Centre down Queen Street, and up Spadina Avenue to our main gaming store haunt.  Along the way, we would pass around this amusing oddity, a point where the street flowed around a large island located smack in the centerline of the street.  On that island was a rather stately building that, despite that stateliness, we never could tell what it was used for, or whether it was even use at all.

Well, I needn’t wonder any longer, for the building has been taken and expanded into the new home for the School of Architecture at the University of Toronto!  From the restored front to the landscaped back, the building mixes old and new and emphasizes the juncture between the two, turning that intersection into the primary entryways into the building.  The addition is a box, primarily relying on changes in the roofline and topography to provide some (and I might say just barely enough) articulation and interest.

The best happens inside that box, however, with a plethora of interconnecting spaces radiating off a principal hall that serves multiple duties as auditorium, gallery, and critique space, all culminating at a large graduate studio on the top floor.  With a sculptural ceiling that allows for an abundance of natural, indirect, light, the hall then itself connects through generous circulation to other ancillary spaces allowing the whole affair to come alive in different ways throughout the needs of the school year.  Crits, symposiums, workshops, and extra project space are all well accommodated.

I think my favourite spaces though are the revamped interiors of that stately original, bringing forth much of the character and form of the existing building and rendering it in a nice and new twist with careful touches and with some striking lighting.

Overall, I call this one a win.  The interpenetrating shards of the interior works excellently in providing the varied spaces needed for an architecture school, and there is a nice interplay between the orthographic and grounded original building and the airy, fractal-like new (which in of itself is great for budding architects to experience).  And best of all, it’s brought life and use to a building that was once this odd folly cut off from the city by a busy road and streetcars.  Now it’s a vibrant hub that even makes the detour drive around it curious and new.  Well done.

The Daniels Building by NADAAA

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Architecture Monday

May 27, 2019

Pardon me if I indulge here for a moment by posting another adaptive re-use design by Heatherwick studios, this time from South Africa, transforming a building type familiar to many and found throughout the world:  the waterside concrete grain silo.

On the one hand, grain silos are super strong and resilient.  On the other hand, they’re kind of limiting… what is one to do with all that tubular space?  Fortunately, the first hand and the second hand can come together, with the unified strength allowing for massive holes to be cut into the structure without collapse.

And that was the founding point of the design.  Using a leftover kernel of corn that was literally picked up at the base of one of the silos as the template, a massive atrium was cut into the silos to create a grand entry and circulation space.  And hoo boy, grand it is!  Glazed on top and with circular elevators and stairs gliding through the peripheral silos it’s a stunning sight to behold.  And one of detail mastery as well; the skill on display required to cut the concrete in the complex curving forms is amazing.

The adjacent grading tower with its strong boxy form is a nice contrast to the silo tubes.  With jeweled windows that protrude from the strong boxy frame additional galleries, event spaces, and even a hotel are created.  Best of all might be the amazing roof sculpture gardens that not only provide an amazing panoramic view of the area coupled with sculpture, but also the skylights for the atrium upon which you can walk and cavort and dance.  Or the rooftop pool for the hotel…

One of the strict desires/briefs by the client was “No curving galleries!  Art is not round!”  So the majority of the galleries seem to be white boxes that totally belie the silo nature in which they are contained.  This to me is unfortunate; while I get the desire for straight walls, to not find a path that could both celebrate the curvy while maintaining the orthogonal is a bit of a lost opportunity.  But that hardly breaks the project.  As an amazing reuse of a very industrial building this is an exceptional win, delightful to experience and doubly great that African modern artists now have a local home upon which to have their works displayed and celebrated.  Great stuff.

The Zeitz MOCAA by Heatherwick Studios

Bonus video!  Click here:  https://vimeo.com/269008579

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Architecture Monday

May 13, 2019

So this is nifty.  You’ve got these two former coal hopper warehouses that, while built by the same person, are not parallel (to better work with the incoming rail lines and turning radiuses).  They are big, made of brick, super solid, and full of arched loading bays that would be perfect to convert into stores.

Cool.  Now, you also want to include both indoor and outdoor event spaces and do something to unify the two buildings.  Hmm, what to do…  well, how about “pulling” the roof like taffy and have the buildings kiss?

Which turns out to be as equally impressive inside!

Lots of nice stuff here that builds upon all sorts of features that were already in place from the industrial days: the multiple ground planes, the train access bridges, the rugged and tactile brick, the Victorian ironworks.  All pulled together with additional bridges, lots of glass, and, of course, the twin ribbons hovering like magic over the new plaza.

Cool beans and a fabulous adaptive reuse project.  Coal Drops Yard by Heatherwick Studio

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Architecture Monday

April 22, 2019

Oh yeah!  An old Water Pumping Plant turned Artist Studios and guest house.  Lots of great stuff here, let’s dive right in…

The former pumping hall is a thing of beauty.  40+ feet high and with gorgeous and ginormous windows it’s perfect for a flexible studio.  To add even more flexibility, the old gantry crane has been repurposed to support a movable mezzanine deck that can used either for offices or to support and make the art below.  I love the studio’s minimal deco styling and the strong contrast of white and rich black.  And oh those tall and narrow windows, so elegant, lending a stately air as they pull the space heavenward and let light cast deep within.

As cool as that is, though, the reinhabited attic is divine.  Taking advantage of the original and expressive trusses (designed to allow the hall below to be column free), the lounge and attached guestroom calls to me to go and hang out.  With a few newly added windows it’s a different kind of soaring space than the studio below, the structure vaulting upward cathedral-like and creating a lively mix of light and shadow.

Great stuff, and awesome adaptive reuse.  And a lucky find for the artists!

Water Pumping Renovation by Wenk and Wiese Architects.

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Architecture Monday

February 4, 2019

Another building tonight by one of my favs, BIG Architects… but something decidedly different in scale, scope, and form from much of their other work.  It is a restaurant that becomes a village.

The starting point for the project is itself quite nifty, the adaptive reuse of a protected warehouse that once stored mines (explosives!) for the Royal Danish Army (that is also, humorously, across the river from and affords a great view of BIG’s power plant and ski slope (I am not making that up… this is an actual thing!)).  Due to the landmarked status of the building, the buildable area was very limited, only being allowed in the small areas where small extensions had been erected in times past.  The client was an avant-garde restaurant serving reinvention of Nordic cuisine.  Oh, and they wanted greenhouses to supply their kitchen.  Ready?  Go!

The result is quite glorious.  BIG settled on three main starting points:  filling the existing landmarked structure with the “back of house” functions, off of which hangs a kitchen that in turn off of which radiates a number of small pavilions to form a village of architectural forms.  Each one of these pavilions has its own character both inside and out, and each have their privileged views both outwards towards the nature preserve, water, or the city, while each also have a view to the central and open service kitchen.

There’s a lot of beauty to be found here in the meticulous detailing of all the seemingly disparate buildings.  Brick roofs!  Highly articulated ceilings with glowing skylights!  Striated stone walls!  Rough brick and sensual wood!  A feeling of old and new dancing together!  Cozy enclosure and expansive windows!  And to literally top it all off, an amazing glass roof that connects everything together.

And while it might be considered “dead simple”, the entry way is what entices me the most for the way it serenely presents itself, a lovely mass of steel and wood, seemingly-symmetrical-but-in-actuality nestled between two differently crafted pavilions.  The proportions, the combination of materials, the way the overhang invites and calls forward, it’s all so very well done.

Yeah, gotta add this one to my list of places to visit (even if I can’t get a reservation within).  There’s something magical in this assemblage, and I want to experience it in person.

NOMA 2.0 by BIG Architects

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Architecture Monday

January 7, 2019

Let’s start 2019 off with a sweet adaptive reuse of an old powerhouse on the shores of the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Can you say brick arches galore?

And how!  Leaving intact the exterior shell of the building, including its many, many metal shutters, the project’s new guts celebrate the aged solidity of all that brick.  To start, the newly carved open-air courtyard and pedestrian walkway connects the waterfront park to the city and turns those thick walls into an art object.  An object you can get up close and personal with through publicly accessible walkways and a roof terrace.  Want to see the park and the nearby Brookland Bridge?  Or the very cool carousel that’s just next door?  Those same terraces have you covered.

Going further upward, the new structure is rendered in glass and beefy steel, extending the feel of the building without mimicking the material or exact look.  By pulling back from the edges of the old walls, more terraces and green roofs are created while, again, celebrating the aged beauty of those rugged brick walls.

Inside, old structure and new are merged into an antithesis of a sterile office environment.  I especially love how they dealt with the windows, making a sealed structure while allowing the full depth of the wall to be felt through each opening from both inside and out (further enhanced on the outside by being framed with those shutters).

Even better?  This is right next to St Anne’s Warehouse, another adaptive reuse par excellence (featured here a couple of years ago).  Good stuff you’ve got going on there, Brooklyn!

Empire Stores, by S9 Architecture.

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Architecture Monday

December 3, 2018

Ok, there is a lot of similarity in the house below and the amazing work by Ando I shared a couple of weeks ago… but the scales are vastly different.  Here, a tight three-house compound in northern Beijing with non-existent yards was reimagined into a single home.  Keeping and upgrading the existing house along the north side of the compound, new additions were added along the west and south sides to create a U-shaped arrangement that creates a generous courtyard.

I’ll admit, I can be a sucker for exposed brick (especially in adaptive reuse scenarios), and this project has them in spades.  But there are a lot of other great details as well:  the exposed log-structured roof in the renovated old house, the patio and rock garden in the courtyard, the expansive windows and rotating screens, and the LED light strip that illuminates the intricacies and texture of the old tile roof at night.  With the generous windows throughout, the house feels continuous even though it’s wrapped around a courtyard; the courtyard becomes just another room to look through.

Like with the Ando design, it’s a very interesting mix of old and new, both factually and figuratively.  There’s a historic ruggedness in the brick and tiles and iron-grey railings and window frames, accented by the smooth concrete and crafted wood paneling.

I especially like this bonus moment where the courtyard opens a vista that allows the profile of the house next door to mirror that of the mountain ridge in the background.

Overall it’s good stuff.  Not a total adaptive reuse, but still a partial one that makes most of what was there before.

Backyard by CCDI