As the way in which people use cities morphs form generation to generation, we're left with dormant buildings—those that have outlived their original purpose, but are rife for enterprising architects and designers to give them a second wind. This latent stock might include industrial remnants, former school houses, barns, and even convenience stores. In the following slideshow we examine seven such projects from Portland to Boston to Hamburg that demonstrate reusing and recycling go far when it comes to architecture.
Originally erected in 1907, the building in Portland, Oregon's West End that's now home to architect Jeff Kovel and his family was once a messenger service, a boardinghouse, a storage space, a gay bathhouse, and more recently, a store selling fine, handmade men’s lingerie.
“We intended to stay for a year and then sell it and get out,” Kovel says. “But obviously we’re still here.”
After its life as a school, the Milford Academy was converted into a boardinghouse, which hosted actors performing at Milford’s once-thriving resort. By 1904 the structure had been rotated 90 degrees and turned into a family home. Photographers Richard Renaldi and Seth Boyd wanted to reimagine it as a place where they could live and work and enlisted architects Andrew Magnes and Koray Duman to turn the aging schoolhouse into a modern marvel. The living-dining room (shown here) replete with a Wells sofa from Room and Board, occupies what was formerly a classroom.
Everywhere you look in this 5,000-square-foot 1850s threshing barn, you can see oriented strand board (OSB), a medium associated more with shuttering around large construction sites than with interior decor.
“We had seen straw bales in here and we started thinking about OSB,” says Carl Turner, who heads up Carl Turner Architects in London. “The idea of using that as a predominant material gave us the idea that everything should be a bit more blocky. We both like Donald Judd and Richard Serra.”
After a year of searching for a new home, Santiago Suarez tripped over an ad in the local newspaper—“Church for Sale!”—went to the open house “out of curiosity,” and bought the 19th-century structure, once home to a Baptist congregation, the next day. Architects Elizabeth Gray and Alan Organschi converted the church into a family home.
The Suarezes wanted the living area to be a place where the family could be occupied individually while still together. Bonnie works in the kitchen while Santiago (seated on an IKEA couch borrowed from one of their sons until they find something else) works on the computer.
In the 1960s, the two-story, 1,070-square-foot villa originally built in 1907 had been all but swallowed by an L-shaped addition that once served as a minimart. Berlin-based architect Frank Drewes, of the firm Drewes+Strenge Arkitekten turned it back into a residence, but this time with a minimalist feel and high-end design for the family of four that lives there now.
A mustard-yellow brick building in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood once housed an insurance company called the Minnesota Commercial Men’s Association. Years later, it sheltered battered women. After that, it was home to an elderly artist who rented out a few apartments haphazardly carved out of each floor. Then, finally, Greg Martin, a coffeehouse owner and part-time rehabber, came along and reincarnated the building yet again.
The kitchen and dining area is furnished with a salvaged timber table designed by Matt Eastvold, white Panton chairs, and a Glo Ball pendant lamp.
In this renovation of an 1846 Boston brownstone, the winding stairwell runs from the ground-floor offices all the way to the top of the house, creating an airshaft for natural ventilation and passive cooling.