Architectural Salvage: Cultural Hotspots Using Adaptive Reuse

Architectural Salvage: Cultural Hotspots Using Adaptive Reuse

The dawn of the Anthropocene thrust the idea of ​​adaptive reuse into the limelight: indeed, the pinnacle of urban regeneration and revitalization. It uses the presence of existing buildings with historical and cultural value and reallocates them to be functional. Essentially a form of architectural salvage; a sustainable and viable means of reconstruction.

Recent events such as the pandemic have exposed the inequalities of our urban landscape, the segments that are inadequate, in disuse and in disrepair. Adaptive reuse can replenish these areas and create new cultural hotspots, encourage activity, and create vibrant and healthy mixed-use environments.

Below is a diverse selection of cultural hotspots using adaptive reuse


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San Francisco Art Institute.  Image © Bruce DamonteSource of Tainan.  Image © Daria ScagiolaWorkshop gardens.  Image courtesy of MVRDVPerrotin Gallery.  Image © Raphael Gammo+ 15

Culture Center Wagenhallen Stuttgart / Atelier Bruckner

Wagenhallen Stuttgart cultural center.  Image © Daniel Stauch
Wagenhallen Stuttgart cultural center. Image © Daniel Stauch

This award-winning cultural center was formerly a series of locomotive sheds built in the late 1800s. Today it is an important cultural venue providing space for concerts and events. The essence and skeleton of the original building remain, while elements such as windows have been replaced as needed. The wide spaces offered by its original construction, provide excellent acoustics and flexibility in terms of use.

Wagenhallen Stuttgart cultural center.  Image © Michael Reiner
Wagenhallen Stuttgart cultural center. Image © Michael Reiner

He reused the potential the original structure had to offer and turned this disused segment into a bustling hive of activity. The facade appears as a rich historical tapestry, displaying an array of different brickwork from different eras. Almost a subject for demolition, this salvage project proved to be a huge success, housing Stuttgart’s creative scene and retaining its historic character.

Medieval Mile Museum / McCullough Mulvin Architects

Museum of the Medieval Mile.  Image © Christian Richters
Museum of the Medieval Mile. Image © Christian Richters

As a medieval church rediscovered as a museum, this particular project establishes the importance of the conservation of architectural elements of historical value, while giving it a new destination adapted to current needs. A wonderful example of the intertwining of past and present to create an immersive and engaging exhibition space. Create exciting new opportunities for the impaired.

Museum of the Medieval Mile.  Image © Christian Richters
Museum of the Medieval Mile. Image © Christian Richters

Original features such as the 13and the choir and the aisle of the century were rebuilt in lead in order to enlarge the space of the museum. These reconstructions relied on original foundations, which have since disappeared over time. The interior acts as a large, well-lit exhibition space housing some very fine relics of Ireland’s medieval past. Once a place of ruins, it is now a popular spot with locals and tourists alike.

Workshop Gardens / MVRDV

Workshop gardens.  Image courtesy of MVRDV
Workshop gardens. Image courtesy of MVRDV

An ongoing transformation through adaptive reuse methods includes MVRDV’s revitalization of Berliner Union Film Ateliers (BUFA) film and television studios in Berlin. Due to its historical nature, the original studios are found to be obsolete and have no advantages when it comes to the energy of the realms. The proposal aims to transform the site into a biodiverse and thriving campus environment, offering a range of office and studio facilities.

Workshop gardens.  Image courtesy of MVRDV
Workshop gardens. Image courtesy of MVRDV

As for some of the revitalization of the studios, minimal changes are to be made as a nod to more sustainable methods of rebuilding – essentially not rebuilding at all to extend the life of the structure. origin. However, beneficial additions including a vegetated timber frame, providing insulation and the implementation of biophilic components such as gardens, will provide a more sustainable vision for the future of this once flourishing environment.

Perrotin Gallery / Peterson Rich’s Office

Perrotin Gallery.  Image © Guillaime Ziccarelli
Perrotin Gallery. Image © Guillaime Ziccarelli

Originally the Beckenstein Building (1890) on the Lower East Side, this particular adaptive reuse project has come a long way over the years, highlighting how technology can reinvent architecture time and time again. It is now the Galerie Perrotin; a drastic change from previous residences that resided here.

Perrotin Gallery.  Image © Raphael Gammo
Perrotin Gallery. Image © Raphael Gammo

To structurally alter the building to allow for more gallery space, the arches were reconstructed and fitted with artificial lighting, to address issues regarding the presence of natural light in the structure. This is crucial in terms of creating an effective exhibition space and highlights how adaptive reuse can be encouraged, despite the difficult wrangles in the original plans. The presence of a bookstore on the ground floor and a garden on the roof, draws traffic from a range of diverse visitors, implementing increased activity in the street scene.

San Francisco Art Institute / LMS Architects

San Francisco Art Institute.  Image © Bruce Damonte
San Francisco Art Institute. Image © Bruce Damonte

This US Army warehouse at Fort Mason has been converted into a new campus for the San Francisco Art Institute. Using existing building resources and re-establishing the structure as a cultural landmark, the project provides a sustainable means of regeneration while preserving local identity.

San Francisco Art Institute.  Image © Bruce Damonte
San Francisco Art Institute. Image © Bruce Damonte

Offering multiple galleries, flexible educational and exhibition spaces, it is strongly geared towards the idea of ​​the center enriching the region with art as a practice beneficial to society. Modern technologies, such as the addition of photovoltaics, provide all the energy needs demanded by the building. With excellent accessibility and sustainable practices, it has proven to be an exciting transformation appealing to a diverse audience.

Tainan Spring / MRVDV

Source of Tainan.  Image © Daria Scagiola
Source of Tainan. Image © Daria Scagiola

The empty shell of a disused mall in Tainan, China, has metamorphosed into a downtown paradise, a space to escape urban sprawl. A particularly difficult undertaking, MVRDV ignored the demolition of the original center and used existing materials to revitalize this otherwise stagnant area of ​​the cityscape.

Source of Tainan.  Image © Daria Scagiola
Source of Tainan. Image © Daria Scagiola

It now presents itself as an active district, meticulously designed with water features to provide comfort to visitors during the warmer seasons. The remnants of the concrete frame provide flexibility and possibility, allowing adaptation to facilities and commercial spaces. Over time, this will build on existing amenities, which include playgrounds and a performance hall. These attract a variety of uses, at all times of the day and night. Adaptive reuse projects that offer great diversity become the most successful, developing active and vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods.

Tate Modern / Herzog & de Meuron

Tate Modern.  Image © Simone Graziano Panetto
Tate Modern. Image © Simone Graziano Panetto

Perhaps the most notorious example of the successful implementation of adaptive reuse is the transformation of the former Bankside Power Station into the Tate Modern Gallery in London. One of the most visited tourist attractions in the capital, it has become an active and exciting social center. The original riverside power station had been disused since 1981. Candidates for demolition, Herzog & de Meuron saw opportunity in the monumental ‘turbine hall’, its circulation and potential as a cultural meeting place .

Tate Modern.  Image © Darrell Godliman
Tate Modern. Image © Darrell Godliman

The structure has been adapted into a modernist icon in the urban landscape, using the vast hall for art installations and exhibitions. Its austere urban character was used to highlight the works and reflect its contemporary nature. From obsolete to icon, this particular project emphasizes the potential for adaptive reuse that our disused spaces can pose in the built environment. Recovering the cultural and historical character to rebuild…

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