16 Amazing Adaptive Reuse Projects That Will Make You Look Twice

You won’t believe what they’re doing now.

Like diamonds in the rough, these dilapidated churches, factories, and warehouses sat abandoned for years. But then a bit of imagination (and a whole lot of work) transformed these offbeat typologies into shining homes with character to spare. Read on for 16 of our favorite adaptive reuse projects that polish up unlikely spaces.

A 17th-Century Parchment Factory in England

Will Gamble Architects revived a crumbling, 17th-century structure with a svelte addition of steel, brick, and glass. The disorderly nature of the ruin is juxtaposed against the modern structure, which expands a Victorian-era residence. The facade’s brickwork was largely completed using reclaimed materials, allowing the new section to sensitively blend into its surroundings.

New York City–based architecture and interior design firm Fogarty Finger transformed this propeller factory into a stylish, modern home that gives a firm nod to its industrial past. The firm preserved the building’s historic facade and the original company sign.

In the mid-1970s, architect Ricardo Bofill transformed the abandoned Sansón Cement Factory, which is five miles outside Barcelona in the village of Sant Just Desvern, into his home and the headquarters for his firm. The former cement factory’s grounds were brought to life with Mediterranean plantings.

"We really wanted to capture the ruinous quality of this old building rather than do something overtly new," says Greg Blee, founding partner at Blee Halligan Architects. Before construction could begin, however, he and Halligan had to patch the remaining walls using stones found in the nearby river. Wherever a wall had collapsed, the designers inserted framing to create windows and doors. For the roof, they turned to the original tiles. "My father’s terrible at throwing things away," Blee says. "We took the tiles off 30 years ago, as it was too dangerous to have them up there. They’ve been sitting in the fields ever since, and this was our last chance to use them."

London-based husband and wife design duo Chan + Eayrs turned a loft apartment in a former shoe factory into the Beldi—a stunning, richly textured contemporary home.

A renovation divided this Quebecois church into two parts: a 2,500-square-foot home for owners Nicole and Pierre, and a 1,500-square-foot office, garage, and workshop at the rear.

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, the American Woolens Dye house is a brick and timber structure that was originally built in 1880. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it served as a textile mill before a thoughtful and extensive renovation transformed the property into a gorgeous live/work space.

This 1930 building sits one block off the main street of Greenport Village in the North Fork of Long Island—just two hours from New York City. Partially covered in vines, the austere facade contrasts starkly with its bright interiors.

This warehouse in Sydney has served as everything from a Vegemite warehouse to an advertising agency over the years. The street-side windows have operable aluminum louvers for privacy and sun-shading.

In Austin’s coveted Bouldin Creek neighborhood, Rhode Partners has converted a Mission Revival–style church into four two-story, loft-style homes that enjoy 15-foot ceilings and historic details.

The historic carriage house at 4 Hunts Lane is located in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, nestled between Henry and Clinton Street. Boasting a handsome red brick exterior, the multilevel home retains an outline of its original center passageway.

Two friends spent three years reviving this 16th-century Basque church near Bilbao, Spain. Abandoned since the late 1970s, the church was in need of serious repair. The roof had caved in and vegetation had thoroughly invaded the structure. Built in the mid-16th century, with some add-ons in the form of an 18th-century bell tower and sacristy, the church had obvious archaeological and historical value.

This 19th-century New York factory houses the apartment of Brandon and Amy Phillips as well as the workshop for their company, Miles & May Furniture Works.

Designed by Chinese firms Vector Architects with interiors by Horizontal Space Design, Alila Yangshuo is a 117-room hotel that’s housed within a renovated 1960s sugar mill.

Built in the late 19th century as a storage warehouse for bananas, this stone building in Barcelona’s Sant Antoni neighborhood was partially destroyed by air raids during the Spanish Civil War. Despite the damage, local architect Valentí Albareda of Metric Integra saw potential in the building’s stone walls, handmade rasilla bricks, and vaulted basement. Albareda worked to transform the crumbling building into a 1,389-square-foot triplex residence.

On the outskirts of the Austrian city of Salzburg, architecture studio Smartvoll transformed a warehouse used to repair tanks during wartime into Panzerhalle—an indoor food market with restaurants and event spaces on the first level, a beauty parlor on the second level, and a fantastical multipurpose apartment on the loft’s upper level.


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