Posts Tagged ‘adaptive reuse’


Architecture Monday

March 5, 2018

Imagine stumbling on an enigmatic “ruin” – an old cement factory with cavernous rooms, punctuated by massive supports (sometimes for things no longer there), and dotted with stairs leading to nowhere.  A child’s dream to explore… and a playground for a whimsical and very cool reinvention.  With some careful demolition and clever insertions, the old factory was transformed into offices, archives, a library, theatre, and a huge multi-function space.

I love this thing!  The whole thing is visually interesting and teasing, very fairy tale like (which is very much helped by the gothic-like tracery added to windows and around doors).  The rich texture of the rough concrete helps a bunch too, evoking the feel of natural stone that the castle was either carved in to, or otherwise built out of.  Surrounded by gardens and greenery, it really is like inhabiting a forgotten world.

And the rooms inside are a delight as well.  From the old concrete silos (round rooms! aka turrets!) to the great machine halls, everywhere the original (industrial) shapes are used to excellent effect.  Solid yet soaring, heavy yet filled with light, with smooth wood and steel contrasting with the rough natural concrete, it’s a delight for the senses.

Sorry for the million pictures  here, but there are just so many of them that catch my imagination.  I’ve gotta try and visit this place sometime.  What an amazing piece of adaptive reuse, using the bones of something gone to create something wonderful and new.

The Factory by Ricardo Bofill


Architecture Monday

January 15, 2018

Oooo, this nice.  A former barn/shelter for goats, nestled against a cliffside, refinished with local materials, and expanded with a lovely addition, all to become a cottage available for travelers to rent.  With bonus sheep that graze right outside the doorstep!

There’s lots to be said for the tactile beauty of rough plaster walls, and the feel of being ensconced within their thick confines.  Check out how the plaster curves to meet the doors and windows, accentuating the natural feel.  One long room divided only by furniture, the loftyness of the open rafter roof overhead coupled with the white walls make for a grand and glowing space in the day, and a cozy nestled up by the fireplace spot at night.

The new addition is also quite sweet.  Mirroring the cottage’s form without being a slavish copy, the rough, board formed and ground-coloured concrete fits nicely into the lush and earthy surroundings.  Even the chimney gets into the act, adding a nice fine point to the overall composition.

The view from the bedroom, wow.  And while that huge window by itself would be quite amazing, paring it with that smaller one in the corner adds that extra je ne sais quoi to make for an even more stunning experience.  The pure white (and again softly rounded) room also enhances the verdant colours, saturating the beauty of the surroundings.

And those seemingly glazed side alcoves you may have noticed in the outside pictures?  One’s the entrance to the addition, and the other, well, I present to you a sunken tub with a perfect platform for sky and star gazing.

Nicely done, a fabulous example of adaptive reuse.  Lovely.  Adding it to my list of places to visit and stay.

The Lost Cottage


Architecture Monday

September 25, 2017

Some eye candy tonight of a very nice adaptive reuse from Montreal!  This one’s filled with delicious contrasts and intersections:  rugged brickwork with slick and smooth walls, deep tones with vibrant colours, old materials kissing new ones, deep windows with flush lighting, and some great shadow play.  As a bonus, this is an old railway station….

Lightspeed Offices by ACDF Architecture


Architecture Monday

August 14, 2017

There’s something quite arresting about this house, in even this one photo.  The sun is certainly one reason why, gleaming off the smooth white polished and plastered walls (from locally sourced lime and salt) to bathe the interior in a sensuous glow… but for me it’s the way that smooth and polished plaster plays off the rough block construction that form the walls and columns, and even more so along the rough groin vaulting of the roof.  Against the strong uniform background the shadows and textures really pop, and the different patterns and surfaces make for a tableau of visual delights.  Even the stairs and floor are finely honed, adding their contrast between the silky and the coarse.

Even better is this is an adaptive reuse, made from a former lamp-oil mill built in the 17th century.  It does what adaptive reuse does best, letting the rugged form speak of its time and place while carrying it forward with a new use and new insertions.

Nicely done.  Ludovica + Roberto PalombaSerafini House by Palomba Serafini Associati


Architecture Monday

June 12, 2017

Books, architecture, and delicious adaptive reuse.  An ancient church + insertion + lighting = one glorious space, and one of the most impressive bookstores on the planet.

I really love the clarity of concept (shown in the sketch above) and the simplicity of the basic design:  a stark multistory bookcase that hugs one side of the old church’s nave.  The black steel contrasts with the white of the stone pillars and arches, while the colourful books mirrors and joins hands with the fading frescoes on the ceiling.  It calls itself out, never trying to fake its way into being an original part of the church, yet it’s rhythms and proportions work harmoniously with elder.  And best of all, the placement of the bookshelf does nothing to diminish the grandeur of the space, or of the amazing windows.  Quite the contrary – by occupying but a part of the nave it heightens (pun semi-intended) the existing space.

And then, when you get up in the bookcase, and find yourself nestled up close and personal with vaults, arches, and those frescoes, the perspective shifts are wonderful indeed.

Also really liking the design for the apse, with a robust chandelier that creates an interplay of low, intimate space inside of the taller exuberance, and the built-in furniture that feels both at once monastic as well as contemporary.

This was a church that had been deconsecrated in the late 1700s and had languished in use and purpose, and it fills me with excitement to see it get this second lease on life.  And doubly so for such a great space.

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx+Girod Architecten


Architecture Monday

April 17, 2017

A nice little piece of adaptive reuse tonight, converting an auto body shop into a Japanese bathhouse.  Wait, what?

But yes, that is completely the case.  Often we overlook many of the buildings around us, indifferent to them and only noticing when we come across big-A or grand architecture.  Yet the everyday buildings make much more of an impression on us (very much every day as it says in their name), and everyday buildings are all capable of being spaces that invite and uplift.  And so, here, this everyday building was repurposed (I will not say rehabilitated, for I don’t think it was unhabilitated before) with care to create a serene space where we may not have expected one to be found.

Exposed brick, cleaned up timber supports and columns plus new walls made of reclaimed wood, an adjusted ceiling to transform the proportions of the space, skylight to bring light deep into the space, a sealed and polished concrete floor – all elements that make themselves seen in various combinations throughout the bathhouse.  Add to that an overall aesthetic that continually mixes opposites to heighten and enhance each and every part.  It’s straightforward and sensuous.  Lovely place.

Onsen in San Francisco.


Architecture Monday

March 13, 2017

Let’s journey to King’s Cross station tonight, to visit the new West Concourse.  Fantastically combining adaptive reuse of the existing historic buildings with expressive structural elegance, it creates a great new expanse of space that welcomes travelers to London.

This was one complex project, touching a total of five existing buildings to improve flow and access to a bevy of train lines, underground railways, a hotel, and more.  For me the big delights are the fact that, despite this massive undertaking, they sought to preserve as much of the existing fabric as possible, and using that as a starting-off point for some great moments and spaces.

Inside the existing buildings, there is a wonderful dialogue between the old and the new, between the contemporary modifications and the historic backdrop.  It is not necessary to copy or mirror the past in order for a building to fit in with its neighbors (or, in this case, fit inside).  There are numerous ways to make the two be in dialogue and, even better, enhance each other in a way that a pastiche repetition would not.  Steel and glass and sleek lighting plays very well with the old brick, highlighting and beautifying the rich texture of the beefy masonry.

The new entry hall takes a different, but equally fruitful, path, with a radiant forest of columns and beams that form a dome over the entire hall (and that also delicately nestles in against the existing curved face of the Great Northern Hotel).  Tall, soaring, and seeming to float overhead, the roof highlights the restored facade of the Western Range building and leaving plenty of room for the necessities of a very busy train station.

The existing platforms were also similarly restored and upgraded, so that travelers today can marvel at the energetic structures that long have been a staple in grand stations.

Overall, lovely work.  And, as a bonus… at the end of the grand new concourse, a new, semi-secret platform was added, known to all those who have read the Harry Potter books:

King’s Cross Station by John McAlsan + Partners