You are driving across the prairies on a sunny day and you glance out your driver’s side window and notice grain towers dotting the prairie horizon.
Towering red edifices reaching towards the blue sky; paint chipping on the building exteriors, exposed metal rusting out in the harsh northern climate. As a Canadian many people can identify with this imagery. Have you ever wondered what could become of these structures?
Many industrial structures are left barren and deserted with no functional use; from water-towers to silos to warehouse spaces.
In many places around the world there has been desire to transform these industrial spaces into functional, unique residential dwellings.
At Heavy Industries we exist to beautify the built world, which is why we were intrigued when we started noticing this emerging trend.
From Belgium to Australia to California incredible residential projects have completely transformed industrial “eye sores”.
Let’s take a look at some projects – shall we?
Denmark – Siloetten, Silo Homes – C. F. Møller Architects
Many towns in Denmark have deserted industrial silos that jut-out from the flat landscape, unavoidably eye-catching and less than beautiful.
In the town of Løgten, C. F. Møller Architects converted an abandoned silo into an attractive condo complex, with 21 high-quality units.
Rather than demolishing the existing structure, the new additions were created around it. C. F. Møller Architects retrofitted the existing building center as a service and circulation shaft. Brand new dwellings were then suspended on three sides leaving the fourth, original exposed.
As describes by C. F. Møller Architects,
“Around the tower, the apartments are built up upon a steel structure in eye-catching forms which protrude out into the light and the landscape – a bit like Lego bricks. This unusual structure with its protrusions and displacements provides all of the apartments with a view of Aarhus Bay.”
With the variegated units the appearance of the new structures resembles something organically growing up and around the existing structure. Rather than hiding it there is a sense of honouring it.
Belgium – Chateau d’eau, Water Tower House – Bham Design Studio
Similar to the situation in Denmark, is Chateau d’eau in Belgium. In the middle of the flat surrounding landscape, is a water tower, built between 1938 and 1941. In service until the beginning of the nineties, this tower has historical relevance. It was occupied and used by the Nazis as a “tour de guete”.
In 2004 the Royal commission for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites accepted a proposal asking to preserve the site.
“The exterior of the tower was fully renovated to its initial state. Damaged concrete columns were repaired and painted, brick joints were completely removed and replaced and the windows in the floor top were enlarged. The works for a complete renovation and conversion into a single family house started in 2008.”
“The preservation of existing concrete elements such as the main water conduct, concrete ceilings, concrete stairs and the 250.000 litres concrete water basin were essential to preserve the strong identity of the building,” describes Bham Design Studios website.
There are some unique challenges with these types of projects; working with local preservation efforts, building codes and the need to maintain the integrity of the building while making it a functional dwelling.
“Adaptive reuse often has to make the best of a bad situation, taking ill-shaped structures into workable residences,” states an article on dornob.com.
Australia – Balmoral Water Reservoir, Water Tower House – Riddel Architecture
Perched on a prominent hilltop in Brisbane, sat this massive concrete water reservoir. Measuring 12m high and having a 22m internal diameter, with reinforced concrete walls about three feet thick.
The City Council had no more use for the structure and sold it to Riddel’s client. Demolition of the site would have cost far more than refurbishment and so the transformation began.
“A ring of habitable rooms was suspended inside the structure towards its top and openings were cut into the concrete walls for windows and internal balconies, for car access and for the front door. The new structure added was steel framed and clad in galvanised corrugated steel,” explains Riddel Architecture.
Wood floors and accents we added to create a bit of warmth and domesticity to the industrial space. Sky lights let in additional light, brightening the space.
The final project boasted a beautiful suite of rooms, overlooking a courtyard, and a north facing deck between the bedrooms and kitchen.
After having learned about these unique structures my home feels a little boring. What do you think about this trend? Would you live in an industrial refurbishment? Do you think this trend makes efficient use of the deserted structures?
Want to be a part of building world-class artwork like this? firstname.lastname@example.org
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