|Unwanted Places into Beautiful Spaces: 14 Creative Conversions|
Dilapidated prisons, sewage plants, disused railroads and shoe factories. These are just a few of the abandoned and deteriorating places that were once eyesores in their respective communities – and have now been transformed for new uses. Stunning makeovers have given these 14 unwanted places new value as vertical farms, community centers, opera houses and art galleries.
Abandoned Food Factory to Zero-Energy Vertical Farm
(images via: plant chicago)
The Plant once housed a food factory, and now – living up to its name – this abandoned building in an industrial area of southeast Chicago is set to become the city’s first vertical farm. Not only will it be a zero-energy food-producing facility, it’ll also provide research and education space. Expected to be fully operational by 2016, The Plant is currently growing greens and mushrooms and will expand to include beer and kombucha brewing and even raising tilapia.
Dilapidated Prison to Civic Center
(images via: exit architects)
A 19th-century prison, which still boasts beautiful and durable brickwork, has been integrated into a stunning modern facility. The Palencia Civic Center features a cell-block-turned-library, and its original buildings have been augmented with bright and airy additions that bring in lots of daylight via cylindrical light wells.
Abandoned Grain Silo to Opera House
(images via: silo marseille)
A large historical grain silo in Marseille, France has been converted into an opera house by C + T Architects, opening in September 2011. The city of Marseille wanted to use an existing building rather than building a new one, and the silo had been abandoned for many years. Built in the mid-1920s, Arenc Silo has been extensively renovated to transform a hollow area in the center into a large theater space, but retains its historical charm.
Bastion to Green-Roofed Public Center
(images via: archaeus)
Historical buildings and green roofs are an incredibly charming combination, and Bastion Theresia Timisoara is one of the best examples. Architecture studio ARCHAEUS transformed the 18th-century fortress, which had sat vacant in the city center for decades, into a park and community center. The architects even used materials and methods that will make it easy to rehabilitate the space decades into the future when it needs another facelift. The facility now offers a range of public uses including classroom and event spaces and lots of bicycle-friendly paths.
Gas Station to Youth & Senior Activity Center
(images via: fabg)
Gas stations tend to be thought of as disposable architecture, not worthy of saving and reusing – except, of course, when they were designed by Mies van der Rohe, like this one on Nun’s Island outside Montreal. This 1966 modernist gas station was transformed by FABG architects into an energy-efficient youth and senior center.
Train Factory to Liquor Store
(images via: wikimedia commons)
Once, this sprawling brick complex in Montreal was a train factory. Now, it’s been redeveloped into housing, offices and shops. The image above shows one of the historic CPR Angus Shops buildings, built in 1904, which has been converted into a liquor store; Inhabitat has photos of additional sections that now serve as a LEED-certified office complex and low-income housing.
Air-Raid Shelter to Residence and Art Gallery
(images via: real architektur)
A World War II air raid shelter that sat in deteriorating disuse in the decades since has become the Boros Residence, inhabited by ad agency founder Christian Boros. In addition to private residential quarters, the impressive 32,000-square-foot structure serves as a gallery for the owner’s collection of contemporary art. The formerly dark spaces have been brightened thanks to the addition of a number of glass walls.
Shoe Factory to Architecture Research Center
(images via: yiorgos hadjichristou architects)
This building certainly doesn’t betray its original purpose in its new incarnation as an Architecture Research Center at the University of Nicosia. The former shoe factory in Engomi, Cyprus was re-skinned with polycarbonate panels in transparent, translucent and opaque shades of white, yellow and black. The panels bring lots of light into the space. A series of sliding walls make the multi-purpose interior adaptable to the university’s needs.
Steel Mill to Public Park
(images via: allés wirdgut)
A rambling public park occupies a space in Luxembourg that was once a steelyard and mill. Retaining visual cues of the site’s industrial past while bringing in public facilities, plants and lighting, AllesWirdGut Architecktur has completed a modern makeover that will remind many people of New York City’s High Line.
Railroad to Recreational Promenade
(images via: 3s studio)
Another High Line-reminiscent project is a rehabilitated railroad in Italy, which has now become a modern seaside promenade with sweeping vistas of the Ligurian coast. The retired railway was a waste of space, taking up valuable coastline that is now a major tourist attraction for the area. Architects 3S studio and Voarino Cairo Voarino used low-impact materials and careful construction to protect the sensitive site.
Sewage Plant to Apartments
(images via: dick van gameren)
Would you want to live in a sewage plant, even years after it was last used for that purpose? Perhaps most people wouldn’t, but Dick van Gameran architects have made this one a bit more appealing than it sounds. The defunct Dutch sewage plant located in Amsterdam-West consists of three concrete drums, transformed into various parts of an apartment complex. With the plant left in its original state rather than ‘made over’, the project isn’t exactly the most beautiful example of structural reuse, but it shows that just about any building has the potential to become something new and unexpected.
Coal-Washing Plant to Museum
(images via: hg merz)
Here’s a great example of how unattractive industrial facilities can be reused in a way that acknowledges their origin, but elevates them to cultural landmarks. The new Ruhr Museum was once Zeche Zllverein’s coal washing plant in Essen, Germany. All of the existing infrastructure and old industrial machinery has been repurposed for visual purposes inside, giving it a layered, almost steampunk-like effect.
Coal Mine to Cultural Center
(images via: 51n4e)
A red brick coal mine and power plant in Belgium is now a cultural center that highlights the historic aspects of the building while also bringing it into the 21st century with shiny new additions. C-MINE has retained its old mechanical equipment including its compressor hail and lift building and gained two concrete structures that hold a theater hall, office space and other cultural and design functions.
Abandoned Airport to Community Garden
(images via: hinkelstone)
Seen above in its previously abandoned state, Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport has now become a community garden. Empty since 2008, the site has no set plans for its future, so it’s been the ideal grounds for all sorts of experimental projects. The Stadttellgarten Schillerklez gardens give the local community a large space for growing their own food inside movable raised beds filled with fresh earth (to avoid possible contamination in the existing soil.) See photos of its current splendor at Inhabitat.