9 Inspirational Examples of Adaptive Reuse

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
The best use for a building can be reuse.

Breathing new life into an old structure can do more than just give a building a whole new purpose—it can transform a unique historic space into a family home or reinvigorate a community. The following 10 structures were fortunate enough to fall into visionary hands and are enjoying a pretty fabulous second shot at life. 

A Wheelchair-Accessible Home in London

Brod Hart’s home in London's Finsbury Park is hidden away on a quiet street filled with Victorian houses typical of the neighborhood. During former incarnations, the structure served as stables and a piano factory before finally becoming Hart's industrial-chic, wheelchair-accessible residence. Hart managed the renovation himself and lived on-site during the process.

9 Inspirational Examples of Adaptive Reuse - Photo 1 of 9 - View into the bedroom with private terrace from the living room. A simple palette of grays blends with the industrial-chic aesthetic, with splashes of red and gold.

View into the bedroom with private terrace from the living room. A simple palette of grays blends with the industrial-chic aesthetic, with splashes of red and gold.

Warehouse-Turned-Home With Vintage Car Storage

This 4,500-square-foot, 19th-century warehouse within a residential neighborhood in Melbourne had previously been a jam factory, an engineering consultancy, an advertising agency, and an aerated water factory, but the massive space had never been a home. "The project was designed to take advantage of the existing building’s fabric as much as possible. Minimal interventions were made into the existing floors, walls, and roof structure, thereby allowing for a very efficient use of materials," principal architect Andrew Simpson says about the project—which also houses the family's antique car collection.

9 Inspirational Examples of Adaptive Reuse - Photo 2 of 9 - "A high-performance, heavily tinted glass was used within the skylights’ double-glazed units to reduce summer heat," Simpson says. Autex Industries provided the insulation for the year’s cooler months, and the addition of a second, more geometric ceiling hides modern-day electrical and mechanical cords.

"A high-performance, heavily tinted glass was used within the skylights’ double-glazed units to reduce summer heat," Simpson says. Autex Industries provided the insulation for the year’s cooler months, and the addition of a second, more geometric ceiling hides modern-day electrical and mechanical cords.

From a Historic Dutch Schoolhouse to Apartments

This century-old historic Dutch schoolhouse building was given a second life when it was converted into 10 apartments by Casa Architecten. The Amsterdam-based Standard Studio was later brought in by a family of five to tackle the interior design of their apartment. The pared-down industrial look of the open-plan family dwelling is a nod to the original utilitarian function of the space.

9 Inspirational Examples of Adaptive Reuse - Photo 3 of 9 - The old classroom space is now an open-concept living and family room. With a family of five and limited interior space, creative storage solutions were essential to the functionality of the home. Simple birch plywood built-in storage under the stairs provides a place to stash kids’ toys, as well as a platform for playing and sitting. Concrete floors flow through the entire home.

The old classroom space is now an open-concept living and family room. With a family of five and limited interior space, creative storage solutions were essential to the functionality of the home. Simple birch plywood built-in storage under the stairs provides a place to stash kids’ toys, as well as a platform for playing and sitting. Concrete floors flow through the entire home.

A High School in a Former Insurance Company Building 

When architects Chava Danielson and Eric Haas of DSH // architecture were charged with transforming iconic Los Angeles architect Welton Becket’s 1955 New York Life Insurance Company Building into the campus for Larchmont Charter High School in Los Angeles, they embraced and preserved the key elements of the structure’s original midcentury design, modifying the interior to accommodate the students.

9 Inspirational Examples of Adaptive Reuse - Photo 4 of 9 - DSH // architecture carried out an adaptive reuse project, which preserved key elements of Welton Becket’s original design, but modified the interior.

DSH // architecture carried out an adaptive reuse project, which preserved key elements of Welton Becket’s original design, but modified the interior.

From Machine Shop to Modern Office Space

Lake|Flato Architects transformed a 20th-century machine shop into the Denver headquarters of Armstrong Oil and Gas, excising the center section of the roof to create a landscaped courtyard that brings natural light and ventilation into the offices. The project won the 2011 Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture.

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