Over the past year, established practices have continued to champion the transformation of existing structures, with adaptive reuse and renovations increasingly becoming a defining aspect of contemporary architecture From the renovation of landmark structures to the adaptive reuse of obsolete facilities, the idea of giving new life to existing buildings has been embraced as the premise for a more sustainable practice, but also as a means of reinforcing the urban and cultural identity of cities. Discover 8 designs and recently completed projects that showcase a new common practice of reusing existing building stock.
Through adaptive reuse and precise interventions, Jason Long and OMA New York have transformed the historic Post Office mail sorting warehouse into a new public destination and cultural venue for Houston, featuring a diverse collection of programs meant to evolve and adapt to the needs of the city. The Barbara Jordan Post Office warehouse was built in 1962 and was used by the United States Postal Service (USPS) until 2015. The redevelopment of the site, which broke ground in 2019, saw the opportunity of preserving the massive building and integrating it into the fabric of downtown Houston.
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MVRDV Completes Transformation of Former Factory in Shenzhen into Creative Hub with a Public Green Roof
MVRDV has recently completed the Idea Factory, transforming a disused factory into a creative hub with an important community-oriented focus. Located in Shenzhen's urban village of Nantou, the adaptive reuse project refurbishes the existing structure to accommodate offices while adding a new layer of public space. The latter takes the form of a rooftop bamboo landscape packed with activities and amenities that provides a new leisure space for the historically disadvantaged neighbourhood.
David Chipperfield Architects won the competition to redesign 1014 Fifth Avenue, a historic 1907 townhouse owned by the German government and used for cultural programming, into a space for meeting and dialogue. The project, titled "An Open House" and developed together with New York-based practices KARO Architects and Patarus Group, reorganizes the interior and creates the framework for cultural exchange while honouring the history of the building.
Studio Gang has revealed 63rd House, its design for Blue Tin Production's new manufacturing studio in the heart of Chicago’s southwest side. The new headquarters, which is an adaptive reuse project of Chicago's two-story brick post office that was built in 1920, will feature a mix of meeting and artist spaces around a central community room, "centralizing workers’ well-being, deepening connections with neighborhood residents and partners, and building long-term economic mobility and racial equity across the city".
Marcel Breuer’s Pirelli Tire Building, a beacon of Brutalist architecture in the United States, is being reimagined as a hotel by development company Becker and Becker. After being abandoned for years, the structure was sold to architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker in 2020 with plans to transform it into a sustainable 165-room hotel. The sculptural concrete structure aims to be a model for passive design hotels using its unique architectural features and innovative adaptive reuse techniques.
Gmp has won a competition to redesign a disused stainless steel factory that would accommodate the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. In tune with China's newfound interest in adaptive reuse, the project retains the core structure of the 860-meter long industrial building, as well as its ventilation towers. At the same time, it redesigns the façade and accentuates the central axis through a mix of social spaces. The design is part of a larger redevelopment plan to transform the former industrial site into an art district.
Construction work began for Herzog & de Meuron’s transformation of a former power plant building in San Fransico into a mixed-use project. Designed in collaboration with California-based practice Adamson Associates, the adaptive reuse of iconic Station A is part of the Portrero Power Station project, the redevelopment of a 29-acre industrial site into an extension of the Dogpatch neighbourhood. Herzog & de Meuron’s design retains and repurposes various features of the industrial building while adding a lightweight, steel-framed structure on top, thus giving new life to one of San Francisco’s landmarks.
Work has begun for MVRDV's renovation of Shenzen Women & Children Centre, a mixed-use tower featuring an array of public functions, now in need of a comprehensive transformation. Constructed during the city's explosive growth following the Special Economic Zone designation in the 1980s, the building is one of the many nearing the end of their initial lifespan, and MVRDV's adaptive re-use project sets an important precedent for repurposing these buildings by bringing colour, greenery and a new layer of public spaces.