When factories are decommissioned, they may sit vacant until their inevitable meeting with a wrecking ball. Architects and designers alike have found relic buildings to be a great starting point to channel their creativity, integrating the history of the original structures and utilising the premises for a different function altogether. This collection of projects demonstrates the more extreme the conversion, the more pleasantly unexpected the result!
God's Loft by LKSVDD Architects
A residential conversion in the town of Haarlo, the Netherlands has taken its church count down by one. With only minor structural changes, the structure remains largely intact from 1929 with the addition of a mezzanine loft and a monolithic, free-standing staircase. Dubbed ‘the stairway to heaven’, the wooden block conceals a closet and kitchen. The home is filled with biblical sarcasm including a flock of lost sheep and bathroom to take your ‘holy shit’, injecting the homeowner’s humour as touches of kitsch amidst a contemporary intervention.
Studio Conversion by External Reference Architects
A taxi garage was turned into an event space with a separate area which doubles for a short-stay living quarters and meeting space for a fashion designer in Barcelona. Integrated to emerge from a topographical landscape, a retractable bed for the owner can be concealed for clients leaving a sofa and extra floor space.
Red Town Office by Taranta Creations
Two levels within an undisposed metal factory became a playful work place for architectural practice Taranta Creations. Upon entering the space, a drop of molten metal falling from the ceiling contains a staircase to connect the office´s upper and lower functions. Upstairs, employee desks are submerged beneath the ground plane, generating an informal atmosphere by making it mandatory to sketch on the table top which is the floor. Windows are indirectly set at an ideal height, resting in line with the work surface.
Office Conversion by Alatas Architecture and Consulting
In Istanbul, a 19th-century mansion’s original, heavy Ottoman exterior was restored while its interior was converted into an office with a striking design. Effects from an unsatisfactory renovation in the 1980s were eliminated and a transparent glass wall and roof enclosure replaced the rear elevation to connect employees with the green surroundings and adjacent Bosporus straight.
Roderick Vos Showroom
A renovated 1908 hospital in Den Bosch, the Netherlands was converted into a 2014 showroom, test lab and workshop for designer Roderick Vos. Placing customers within the idea generation space for himself and his textile designer wife, Claire Vos Teeuwen, Vos softened the once-clinical interior with playful furniture elements and vegetation in the form of a shrubbery wall and hanging potted plants which double as pendent lighting and a power source.
Waanders In de Broeren by BK Architecten
Dating from 1640, a church in Zwolle, the Netherlands found its second coming as a book shop. Maintaining the quality of the medieval structure, floor space was increased by placing additional levels within the aisles without permanently damaging the original building. Wooden niches around the café’s booth seating creates an intimate setting amidst the church’s high vaulted ceilings. The original organ and large stained glass windows remain a visual focal point across open central axis while books shelves line the length of the church’s nave.
Rampart Route Ypres by Architectuurburo Govaert en Vanhoutte
An armoured structure in West Flanders, Belgium constructed in the mid-15th century has been repurposed to house a restaurant, information area, meeting spaces and restrooms. The architectural intervention merged with the rigid internal layout and left the infrastructure’s exterior unchanged which was amazingly unharmed between the first and second world wars.