Category Archives: Structure Reuse

Seasteading: Sustainable Solution to Offshore Platforms: Urban Ghosts |

seasteading Seasteading: A Sustainable Solution to Abandoned Offshore Platforms

Seasteading – the concept of creating autonomous communities at sea – offers a sustainable solution to dealing with abandoned oil rigs and other redundant offshore platforms.  In theory, seasteads would be established beyond the territories claimed by national governments, and some would even be mobile.  As eccentric as it sounds, there’s a substantial movement to make this form of oceanic dwelling a reality by 2014.

principality of sealand Seasteading: A Sustainable Solution to Abandoned Offshore Platforms

The term can be traced to the works of two people – Ken Neumeyer and Wayne Gramlich – and proposals range from refitted cruise ships and adapted oil rigs to decommissioned anti-aircraft platforms and custom-built floating islands.  To date, no autonomous states exist on the high seas that are recognised as sovereign nations, although the Principality of Sealand (above) – a disputed micronation located on an abandoned sea fort near the UK coast – might disagree.

seasteading concept Seasteading: A Sustainable Solution to Abandoned Offshore Platforms

Various other seasteading proposals have been put forward, including spar platforms and modular islands.  In 2009, the Seasteading Institute patented a design for a 200-person resort called ClubStead, equivalent in size to a city block.  With a focus on community, the Institute hopes to launch the first seastead in San Francisco Bay in 2014.  Despite the legal issues, the concept at least presents an sustainable means of dealing with abandoned sea platforms in a community driven environment.



via Seasteading: Sustainable Solution to Offshore Platforms: Urban Ghosts |.

13 Crazy Air, Sea & Land Vehicle-to-House Conversions | WebUrbanist

When airplanes have made their last flight, ships are no longer seaworthy and school buses are finished ferrying children to and fro, where do they go to die? Many end up in object graveyards, but some get reincarnated into strange and amazing residences. These 13 converted homes make use of a surprising array of decommissioned vehicles including rail cars, subway carriages, horse boxes and 727s.

Plane Crazy Addition to Apartment in Russia

Converted Rail Car Home in Portland, Oregon

Docked Ship in Dixie, Florida

See all 13 via 13 Crazy Air, Sea & Land Vehicle-to-House Conversions | WebUrbanist.

Inhabitat | Design For a Better World!

Hotel Furillen is a wonderful green retreat set within a restored limestone refinery on the northeastern coast of Gotland, Sweden. Created by photographer Johan Hellström and wife Anna-Karin, the green hotel stands out amidst the brutal yet gorgeous Nordic coastline. Located in a 2.5-mile-long quarry, the hotel offers luxurious accommodations that draw inspiration from the old refinery and its rugged surroundings.

via Inhabitat | Design For a Better World!.

Reclamation Road – A Reality Show 3 – YouTube


It’s all a Reality Show to the Bug. Heritage Salvage is in Ohio Deakinstructing a Corn Mill. While he is in Mid-Ohio he filmed a piece on the struggling town of Sycamore Ohio with resident Brad Marquart. “If we are going to salvage America, we need to salvage the middle class and small towns, the backbone of America.” Reclamation Road – the Reality Show will do just that. We need you to let us know about your small town. Send us a short video on your town to Watch all three videos at “Reclaiming America, one town at a time!”

via Reclamation Road – A Reality Show 3 – YouTube.

City seeking community input , will solicit proposals for redevelopment of Spofford youth jail in the Bronx  – NY Daily News

The old Spofford Juvenile Detention Center

The notorious Spofford Juvenile Detention Center in Hunts Point will be redeveloped for a new use with input from the local community.

The shuttered lockup – a dismal jail made infamous by rap lyrics and detainee horror stories – will be the subject of a “revisioning and community outreach process” starting this summer, according to the Bloomberg administration.

The process will last up to 12 months and culminate with a public request for proposals. Local leaders and entrepreneurs such as Sustainable South Bronx founder Majora Carter have already shown interest, with housing, healthcare and a food market mentioned as potential options.

“We are starting a thorough process to determine the appropriate reuse of the site, which will include engaging the community, stakeholders, elected officials and others to help us create and refine a redevelopment plan,” said Eric Bederman, spokesman for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The juvenile jail held hundreds of youth in vermin-infested cells until 2011, when the city Administration for Children’s Services closed the detention center that ACS Commissioner John Mattingly called a “Dickensian building” unfit for modern times.

via City seeking community input , will solicit proposals for redevelopment of Spofford youth jail in the Bronx  – NY Daily News.

Michelle de la Vega Makes Tiny Living Accessible to Everyone | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

When Michelle de la Vega converted a dusty old garage into a darling Mini House, she had no idea that people all over the world would end up begging her to send them floor plans of her new home. But that is what happened, so as of July this year, the artist will sell as-built digital plans of her 250 square foot green renovation project in Washington. Michelle purchased a new home but knew she would need help meeting the mortgage payment, so she opted to rent out the main house and convert the outdoor garage into a tiny home that she now lives in.

Mini House, Washington, Michelle de la Vega, green renovation, recycled materials, as built, plans, green design, eco-design, sustainable design, tiny living, daylighting, recycled materials, re-pursposed design,

via Michelle de la Vega Makes Tiny Living Accessible to Everyone | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Shirry & Boaz’s Converted Auto Body Shop House Tour | Apartment Therapy

I’ve always wanted to live in an auto body shop. Now I am just jealous.


I was expecting to see an industrial loft building when driving up to Shirry’s place, but was surprised, intrigued and impressed to find an old auto body shop that was converted into a live/work space. The loft serves as both her and her husband’s office space (they work together on projects) as well as their home.




via Shirry & Boaz’s Converted Auto Body Shop House Tour | Apartment Therapy.

Laughing Squid -Watertower, A Multicolored Sculpture on the Brooklyn Skyline

Watertower by Tom Fruin

Watertower” is a multicolored plexiglass and steel sculpture of a water tower that is installed on the roof of a building in Brooklyn (making-of video). Brooklyn-based artist Tom Fruin built the sculpture out of local salvaged materials, including about 1000 scraps of plexiglass . The sculpture is lit by the sun during the day, and at night is illuminated by Arduino-controlled light sequences. “Watertower” will be on display through June 2013.

Watertower by Tom Fruin

Watertower by Tom Fruin

via Laughing Squid.

Harbor Habitat for Humanity has first rehab of vacant home | ABC57 | South Bend IN News, Weather and Sports | Local News

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” joked Erin Hudson with Harbor Habitat for Humanity. The organization finished their latest experiment in Benton Harbor.

Tuesday a bright, yellow home looks brand new at 1354 Agard Street.

Looks can be deceiving.

The home on Agard is a rehab of a vacant building, the first rehab Harbor Habitat has completed. “We’re trying to do whatever we can to make the dollars we have go as far as possible,” said Hudson.

Hudson said building on the home’s solid foundation saved the project about $20,000.

“It feels like a brand new home,” said Alica Isom, the new owner.

Isom said she was proud her home was the organization’s experiment. She thinks there is plenty of potential in the area. “I think it’s a good way to restore the history of Benton Harbor.”

“We thought we could make an impact on the community building from the ground up instead of tearing down,” said Hudson.

Not every rehab saves money. Hudson said some structures are more expensive to fix than build new.

Hudson said if another opportunity comes along, the group will jump on it. “That’s the goal,” she said. “To get to the point where we basically get more bang for the buck.”

via Harbor Habitat for Humanity has first rehab of vacant home | ABC57 | South Bend IN News, Weather and Sports | Local News.

Pig Sty Building into House Conversion | WebUrbanist

Pig Sty Building into House Conversion

A dilapidated pig sty is probably the last place anyone would thing to put a brand new home. However, there is something immediately compelling about the juxtaposition of an old aged shell and a starkly modern interior box that makes this hybrid of old and new immediately more engaging to the eye. The sty portion dates back hundreds of years and sustained age damage over that time and then was nearly destroyed during the Second World War. Restoring the building would have been difficult and cost-prohibitive so the architects came up with a brilliant work-around: they simply inserted a brand new building into the shell of the old one and lined up the windows and openings with the existing perforations in the shell of the sty.

via Pig Sty Building into House Conversion | WebUrbanist.

Long Beach Post – OP-ED: Should We Really Be Tearing Down Our Old Schools?

by Maureen Neeley

Last year, and then again as recently as May 1, the Long Beach Unified School Board voted unanimously to begin the death knell for our city’s amazing collection of historic school buildings, starting with the demolitions of Cecil B. DeMille School (1956 – Kenneth Wing, Architect), Newcomb School (1963 – Hugh Gibbs, Architect) and Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School (1935 – George Kahrs, Architect).


Funded by Measure K, the LBUSD is undertaking a plan to bring our schools up to today’s educational standards. On the surface, this seems like a great idea and one which we can all support. A deeper review, however, reveals that the district may be taking the easy way out. The plan for the future seems to adhere to the traditional and uninspiring scorched-earth policy of demolish and re-build versus renovate and rehabilitate.


The current (2008) Facilities Master Plan calls for the demolition or major renovation of over 30 schools. Many of these are historically and architecturally significant, considered historic resources under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).


Read the entire article via Long Beach Post – OP-ED: Should We Really Be Tearing Down Our Old Schools?.

How a Village Became a Hub for Resilience and Rock & Roll : TreeHugger

Creative Reuse

Down the road from the General Store—past the environmentally-themed charter school that we’ll have to discuss in another post—are the Rivermill Apartments. Housed in the former cotton mill that was the center of Saxapahaw until it was destroyed in a hurricane, the apartments overlook the Haw River. While at first glance they look like expensive yuppie flats, the apartments are actually mostly rentals and seem to house folks from all walks of life and a variety of income levels. Similarly the former mill workers’ cottages are mostly rented out, while a more expensive conversion of an adjacent mill building is currently underway that will feature solar hot water, geothermal heating and a number of other green building features.

via How a Village Became a Hub for Resilience and Rock & Roll : TreeHugger.

Inhabitat – Dairy Barn Transformed into Gorgeous LEED Silver Design and Technology Center on SUNY Campus

SUNY Morrisville State College has a new LEED Silver work center, transformed from a historic arched agricultural building. Designed by Perkins Eastman Architects, the adaptive reuse project has created an open and airy space for the Center for Design and Technology. The former dairy barn was a recognizable symbol on the college’s campus, and is now the symbol of the college’s commitment to sustainability.

via Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

PNCA : about : expansion : NWBroadway511

A vision of the future of Portland’s original U.S. Post office at 511 NW Broadway is written in its magnificent bones: the numerous skylights, expansive windows, lofty ceilings, and open spaces. As President Tom Manley notes, “It’s as if the building always aspired to be a college of art and design.”

During the 2014–15 academic year, this historic building—identified as the geographic center of Portland by a U.S. Geological Survey marker—will re-emerge as PNCA’s Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, a new hub for creativity and entrepreneurship.


via PNCA : about : expansion : NWBroadway511.

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In Praise of (Loud, Stinky) Bars — Rooflines

The vaunted “third space” isn’t home, and isn’t work—it’s more like the living room of society at large.  It’s a place where you are neither family nor co-worker, and yet where the values, interests, gossip, complaints and inspirations of these two other spheres intersect.  It’s a place at least one step removed from the structures of work and home, more random, and yet familiar enough to breed a sense of identity and connection.  It’s a place of both possibility and comfort, where the unexpected and the mundane transcend and mingle.

And nine times out of ten, it’s a bar.

So, a little story:  Once upon a time there was a scruffy real estate developer who shall go nameless, who made some prudent purchases in a derelict former industrial neighborhood.  He had a dream to turn that neighborhood into a vibrant new community that attracted talented young professionals willing to pay at least $1,000 per square foot to live there.  But times were hard and everyone thought he was nuts.  Now, the developer had three things going for him:  time, empty space, and a son who was actively dating.  The son would come home from a date and say, “Pops, you know that empty storefront down the side street by the pier?  Can my girlfriend turn that into a welding shop?”  And poof! A rent-free welding shop would appear.  Soon the area was populated with ex-girlfriends running quirky artisanal industries, but still times were tough and the talented young professionals would not come. Then one day the son came home and said, “Hey Pops, my girlfriend wants to open a bar.”  The father considered this gravely, but finally agreed.  Bars were stinky and noisy and they sold liquor.  But they also attracted people and besides the place was just sitting empty now anyway.  The bar was opened, and lo and behold it became a Third Space:  a place where poor young hipsters could go and hang their weary heads over cheap beer after a long day of yarn bombing, and also where the local shipping company guys enjoyed the jukebox.  Before you knew it, alcohol was flowing freely, and the new locals and old locals were conspiring to illegally convert lofts into residential units and open food co-ops.  It wasn’t long before the bar started serving food, and then one day the unthinkable happened – it opened a café next door with really good coffee and quirky flavors of scones…. Look, I’m not telling this story to glorify bars as the ultimate third space intervention – I’m just trying to point out that bars occupy are particular niche in the place-making ecosystem.  They are like the prairie grass after the fire:  preparing the way for the scrub, and ending with the deciduous trees and their variegated canopy.  They are hardy pioneers, taking root where not much else can sustain life. Wait, was that metaphor too much?  Yes, definitely.

Continue reading In Praise of (Loud, Stinky) Bars — Rooflines

Reuse study urged for Bethlehem site – Lackawanna – The Buffalo News

A handful of Lackawanna residents on Monday urged the City Council to pressure Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski into doing an adaptive reuse study on the long-vacant Bethlehem Steel administration building that is scheduled for demolition.

“It is what the city has been built on, and it needs to stick around,” said Danielle Huber, founder of the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, a new group that is fighting to preserve the ornate 1901 building.

The city has obtained a court order forcing the building’s current owner, Gateway Trade Center, to tear it down.

Preservationists rallied in the hours before demolition was set to begin on May 18. The work has been delayed since then, but it could restart shortly as the city continues to push for the demolition in court.

via Reuse study urged for Bethlehem site – Lackawanna – The Buffalo News.

Inhabitat – This McDonald’s Serves Up Big Macs in an 18th Century Mansion on Long Island

We’ve heard of McMansions but we never thought we’d actually see a McDonald’s operating out of a real mansion! Spotted by Scouting NY in Long Island on a street lined with the typical suburban architectural waste (aka big box retailers), the peculiar gem serves up Big Macs and super-sized fries. We can’t really defend the heinous food served there but it’s pretty impressive that this New Hyde Park McDonald’s is housed in a landmark Georgian mansion whose structure dates all the way back to 1795.

via Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Abandoned Gas Station Becomes a Restaurant : TreeHugger

It’s called the Filling Station: how appropriate. It used to be a shabby and abandoned gas station in London’s King’s Cross. And suddenly it’s a stunning restaurant that does not want to be called a pop-up. Mainly because it is meant to be a semi-permanent building that will be there for two years before new homes are built in the rapidly gentrifying area.

via Abandoned Gas Station Becomes a Restaurant : TreeHugger.

Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon, Editorial – 123-year-old building in Zurich moved 60m to enable expansion of neighbouring station

Pasted Graphic

In a dramatic feat of engineering, an 80m-long commercial building in Zurich has been relocated in its entirety, 60m to the left of its original position. The 123-year-old redbrick Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO) was once a factory for the manufacture of tool machinery, weapons and electric locomotives however its recent owner ABB had announced plans to pull the aging building down.

Following a public petition to save the structure, the MFO was taken on by new owners Swiss Prime Site who pledged to fund a relocation of the old management building, preserving the much-loved MFO and enabling Swiss Federal Railways to undertake an expansion project at Switzerland’s seventh largest railway station, Zurich Oerlikon, situated nearby. The estimated cost of the relocation operation stands at CHF12m (€10m).

via Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon, Editorial, world architecture news, architecture jobs.

Spillman Farmer Architects Transform Bethlehem Steel Factory into a Vibrant Art Center | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania was once the second-largest steel producer in the world, making it a symbol of America’s industrial might. But after a long decline, the company closed the doors to the Bethlehem, PA plant in 1995. The facility had been abandoned for more than a decade before Spillman Farmer Architects converted it into a magnificent art campus. Dubbed ArtsQuest Center, the 68,000-square-foot building has been converted into a vibrant public space for people to experience arts and culture in a gritty, post-industrial setting.

ArtsQuest Center, Spillman Farmer Architects, pre-cast concrete panels, glass, steel, International Orange, Pennsylvania, Bethlehem Corporation, arts center, culture hub, Architecture, Art, recycled building

via Spillman Farmer Architects Transform Bethlehem Steel Factory into a Vibrant Art Center | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Sugarhouse Studios Pop-Up Cinema & Workshop Encourages Community Interaction in London Sugarhouse Studios-Assemble-London Legacy Corporation – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Sugar House Studios

Nestled in an almost abandoned industrial area near the heart of the London Olympics is a new community space dedicated to redevelopment. Sugarhouse Studios is part pop-up cinema, workshop space, cafe and pizzeria.

Assemble, an artist, designer and architect collaborative in London, converted an abandoned sign-writers workshop into this mixed-use building with aim of encouraging community engagement and developing new ways to redevelop the industrial area.

Using reclaimed and salvaged materials, Assemble, with aid from the London Legacy Development Corporation, has created a vibrant center where people can gather to discuss, learn and create.

via Sugarhouse Studios Pop-Up Cinema & Workshop Encourages Community Interaction in London Sugarhouse Studios-Assemble-London Legacy Corporation – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Sleepers Coffee Table || Rail Yard Studios




The Sleepers Coffee Table features TENNESSEE rail from 1916. Crafted from white oak timbers, this piece also has a center tray filled with granite ballast (stone) to give it that straight from the tracks look. It is finished with a golden oak stain and polyurethane sealer. The top is 1/2″ thick glass with penciled edges. This piece is individually numbered with a salvaged railroad tie date nail from 1930.

via Sleepers Coffee Table || Rail Yard Studios.

The Associated Press: Astrodome spared? Group suggests overhaul, reuse

Once touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Astrodome sits quietly gathering dust and items for storage Monday, May 21, 2012, in Houston. The domed stadium was home to the Houston Oilers, Astros and Stock Show and Rodeo along with playing host to the NBA Finals, professional boxing, tennis extravaganzas and numerous high school football playoff games. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Astrodome, a now-empty showplace that has hosted everyone from Elvis Presley to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, should be turned into a multipurpose facility that could spark fresh interest in the city of Houston, a group of consultants recommended Wednesday.

The $270 million option was one of four considered by consultants led by Dallas-based CSL. The other options included leaving the dome alone, demolishing it and building an outdoor plaza, or building a massive and expensive “renaissance” complex anchored by a luxury hotel.

In a presentation to Harris County’s sports and convention agency, the consultants said the multipurpose option could turn Houston into a popular destination for special events and national trade shows. The plan would preserve the iconic structure’s outer shell.

Bill Rhoda, CSL’s president, said the multipurpose facility proposal “recognizes the magnitude of potential opportunities offered by this one-of-a-kind structure.”

via The Associated Press: Astrodome spared? Group suggests overhaul, reuse.

Small Rustic Cabin on 40 Acres in Colorado with Mountain Views for Sale

Much of the house is clad with old wood from fences and old buildings, see below…

Reclaimed materials from fences used on this small rustic cabin

Some parts of the house are even from a chicken coop, like that wall down there.

Reclaimed wall from a chicken coop used in this small rustic cabin

Recycled Timbers inside this Small Rustic Cabin - For Sale in Colorado

The timbers used on the pictures above and below are recycled from old boxcars and a hot springs water tower.

Interior of Small Rustic Cabin made from Reclaimed Materials

Kitchen area in Small Rustic Cabin

Parts of the kitchen, including the cabinets, came from an old motel.

Small Rustic Cabin - Kitchen Area - Reclaimed Materials from Old Motel

Storage in living area of small rustic cabin

Small Rustic Cabin in Colorado Made with Reclaimed Wood


via Small Rustic Cabin on 40 Acres in Colorado with Mountain Views for Sale.

New uses for 200-year-old barns | wood, bolin, barns – Business – The Orange County Register


Ben Bonin and Collin Gibellino search rural America for centuries-old barns that are on the verge of falling down.

For property owners the old structures are attractive nuisances for young kids, property tax burdens and eyesores. Bonin and Gibellino see them differently.

Article Tab: barns-grain-residential-b

True American Grain in Laguna Niguel buys barns originally built in the 1800s, such as this one in Michigan. The company tears the barns down and sells the reclaimed lumber, doors and hardware for residential remodeling and commercial interiors. The hand hewn wood has a unique look and a historial story to tell, the owners say.

One man’s hazard is another man’s business opportunity.

Bonin and Gibellino are partners in True American Grain, a Laguna Niguel supplier of what is called reclaimed or vintage wood that is used for residential and commercial interiors.

In a little more than a year, they have torn down five barns in Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan and resold the wood for interiors in several homes, a shopping mall in Las Vegas, a couple of restaurants and a cheese shop.

The company’s slogan is “giving new life to old America.”

Strolling through one of three local warehouses, Bonin pointed out beams that still bear the hatchet marks of 19th century farmers who built the barns to house dairy cows in northern Michigan. Boards from Tennessee tobacco barns are destined for a home being remodeled in Pelican Hills. A barn door in the corner will soon go to a wine bar in Las Vegas.

“Each piece of wood has a back story, where it came from, what it was used for,” said Gibellino, who keeps a jar filled with handmade nails that have been removed as barns were torn down. “It’s a conversation piece, unique.”

The partners, who tear the barns down themselves with the help of locals they hire, salvage everything they can from brick-sized blocks of wood to metal pulleys that they convert into track lighting.

“Every piece has a home,” Gibellino said.

Reclaimed wood “is very trendy; it’s popular to do repurposed furnishings,” said designer Sherrie Jordan, owner of Incorporate Orange in San Juan Capistrano who has used True American Grain products in wine bars and shops. “Environmentally friendly interiors are popular in California. You can tell right away that it’s authentic.”

Continue reading New uses for 200-year-old barns | wood, bolin, barns – Business – The Orange County Register

Urban farm plan for Detroit’s near east side hopes to reel in cash, tilapia |

Gary Wozniak regards his domain with the enthusiasm of an evangelist. Where most people would look at these wide expanses of Detroit blight and see dark despair, he sees nothing but gleaming possibilities.


WHAT DO YOU SEE?: Gary Wozniak stands in the abandoned Detroit municipal garage where he plans to install an indoor tilapia operation, partnering with an Ohio company looking to expand. The graffiti will stay. (Bridge photo/Nancy Derringer)

“This is the center of the farm,” he said, gazing over the corner of Warren and Grandy on Detroit’s near east side at a vacant lot waving with overgrown grass on a windy spring day. Not long ago, it was where Northeastern High School stood. Today, it’s ground zero in an agreement Wozniak hopes to make with Detroit Public Schools and the city to convert it to one of the city’s most ambitious urban agriculture projects — one that will eventually encompass everything from organic fruits and vegetables to an indoor tilapia farm in an abandoned municipal garage.

Yep, you read it. Fish, farmed, in a garage, in Detroit.

Wanna see more?

Hops growing on trellises surrounding an abandoned factory? Sure.

Plastic-wrapped hoop houses yielding fresh spinach in the midst of a Michigan winter? Why not?

And all of it to be run by recovering addicts — providing stability, job training and income, in a self-sustaining model.

“The farming is really a small piece of the pie,” said Wozniak. “I’m really interested in food-system development.” That is, creating new, shorter lines between where food is grown and where it’s consumed, mitigating such related headaches as pollution and poor nutrition.

It’s almost insanely ambitious, but the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation of Bloomfield Hills recently announced a four-year, $1 million grant to RecoveryPark, the umbrella  organization for Wozniak’s plan. RecoveryPark is, technically, a redevelopment project, but what a redevelopment.

In a three-square-mile piece of one of the city’s most abandoned neighborhoods, Wozniak proposes taking it more or less full circle, bringing back not just farming, but 19th-century farming – labor-intensive, small parcels, minimal processing. Not giant combines and acres of soybeans, but food, healthy food, for people.

“This has really made me see the ‘power of we’ like never before,” Wozniak said.

via Urban farm plan for Detroit’s near east side hopes to reel in cash, tilapia |

Architecture’s afterlife –

Dist. of Col. (Washington DC), USA – Ian Volner is a writer for Architect, the magazine for the American Institute of Architects. His article ‘Architecture’s afterlife’ discusses the ongoing obsession of recycling obsolete building materials over reclamation and salvage, and the processes and costs involved in getting into the reuse game.

Volner begins by painting a picture of the building industry today in the US, with forty percent of solid waste attributed to construction, he says ‘not only rubble and rotting beams, but also countless odds and ends from new construction such as cast off nails and packaging’.

Buildings Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) executive director Ann Niklin adds ‘ “We say it [recycling] is all very well and good, but we also say many of these [materials] could simply be salvaged”.’

There is a positive statement from architects who are using reclaimed materials consistently in their projects.

‘ “We’re really starting to get plugged into, in a much more architectural way, the stream of these materials,” says David Dowell, AIA, a principal of El Dorado Architects, also of Kansas City, Mo. Since expanding to include general contracting services, the firm has been working reuse deeper into its practice.’

Continue reading Architecture’s afterlife –

Sleek Remodel Takes Swiss Home From Ancient to Modern | Designs & Ideas on Dornob


The idyllic mountain village of Soglio, Switzerland has experienced plenty of ups and down in population levels over the past century. As such, some homes and buildings have sat vacant for long periods of time. One such home was spectacularly rehabbed by Christian Speck of Form Zone.

The site of the 15th century stone house used to hold two homes and as such boasts two entrances and dual staircases. On the exterior of the home, nearly everything has remained the same. On the inside, however, the home has undergone an almost-unbelievable transformation.

Keeping the rough-hewn stone, exposed brick and gorgeous timbers intact, Form Zone managed to make this 600 year old dwelling look beautifully modern.

Some walls were clad in natural wood while others were covered in slick white lacquered surfaces. Rather than making the space look vulgar and giving it a forced-modern look (as one might expect), the changes seamlessly transition the home into a stylish modern look.

One of the best parts of the home is the rooftop, where residents can enjoy two separate rooftop sitting spaces. Views of the other stone rooftops in the village and the majestic surrounding mountains are enough to make you almost reluctant to go back inside.

It takes an expert hand to transition a home from ancient to modern. It takes an equally skilled person to make a modern home seem cozy and livable. Christian Speck did both in incredibly elegant style within the ancient walls of this breathtaking home.

via Sleek Remodel Takes Swiss Home From Ancient to Modern | Designs & Ideas on Dornob.

Request for Proposals Issued for Reuse of Josiah Smith Tavern and Old Library – Weston, MA Patch

The Town of Weston, through its Town Manager, has issued a Request for Proposals regarding the adaptive reuse of the historic Josiah Smith Tavern and the Town’s Old Library.

The Town is seeking redevelopment partners who recognize the unique opportunity to bring new life to this rare set of buildings that occupy a highly visible, park-like site along the Boston Post Road at the edge of Weston’s village center and its expansive Town Green.

A copy of the Request for Proposal can be found at under Request for Proposals – Josiah Smith Tavern and Old Library. Responses must be submitted by 4 p.m. on June 7, 2012. Two site visits will be offered – one on April 25 at 10 a.m. and the other on May 3 at 3 p.m.

Continue reading Request for Proposals Issued for Reuse of Josiah Smith Tavern and Old Library – Weston, MA Patch

“Adaptive reuse” brings old warehouses and garages to life – Greater Greater Washington

“Adaptive reuse” brings old warehouses and garages to life

by David Alpert   •   April 24, 2012 3:57 pm

I recently visited an American city with many downtown buildings from a long-departed industry. The city’s downtown is now experiencing new life, and many of the historic buildings are finding new uses after sitting vacant for many years.


This is a complex of old warehouses which have now become retail and offices. The developer added a really amazing water feature, a long river which cascades down waterfalls at various intervals. There are small footbridges across the river and even stepping stones to cross in one place.

The old chutes for the products remain and now serve as decorative flourishes. In the center is an old railcar, like those that once transported goods to and from the facility.


At another location nearby, people have turned several old garages into bars and music halls. They’ve also become a popular spot for food trucks, and 2 were sitting outside as we passed by on a Saturday.


Both of these demonstrate the preservation concept of “adaptive reuse.” Old, historic buildings can become a valued part of a changing community by taking on different functions that residents need today. The distinct architecture of the structures and the small details that nobody would build today adds character and interest.

Bonus question: Can you guess the city?

Update: Several commenters got it very quickly. This is Durham, North Carolina. The large development is the American Tobacco Campus, where tobacco warehouses have become high-end retail adjacent to the new stadium for the Durham Bulls. The garage-turned-bar and music hall is called Motorco, in honor of the building’s historic use.

via “Adaptive reuse” brings old warehouses and garages to life – Greater Greater Washington.

Reuse Building Materials and Give Old Supplies New Life |

reuse building materialsDuring a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in the southern US, I learned that her cousin built her entire home out of materials she collected from old buildings. By salvaging and reusing materials, my friend’s cousin was able to construct her own home on a very strict budget.

Ever the green artist, this thought intrigued and excited me. Not only is it eco-friendly, but with rent and mortgage costs increasing, the thought that it is possible to reuse building materials to construct a comfortable home was a revelation.

Why Reuse Building Materials?

Using reclaimed materials is one of the most sustainable ways to acquire materials for a home or building. Not only is it conservative on the pocket book, but reusing building materials saves resources, conserves landfill space, and prevents deforestation.

Preserving Useful Supplies

In order to resuse building materials, a building must be deconstructed in a way that maintains the integrity of the supplies. This process is different from demolition in which a site is cleared quickly and by any means. Deconstruction takes into account a building’s life cycle and aims to give materials a new life once the building is no longer in use.

Commonly reused building materials include wood, fixtures, sinks, bricks, windows, and cement. Many proponents of recycled materials claim the reused supplies add a sense of history and art to a new structure. It may also provide an opportunity to reuse building materials that were made in an era where standards of craftsmanship were very high. However, construction materials aren’t the only things recycled into homes and structures.

One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s…Temple?

Structures made from reused materials come in many beautiful shapes and forms. There are modern homes made from shipping containers, a Buddhist temple in Thailand made from over one million beer bottles, Aluminum cans upcylced into aluminum siding, and silos made into comfortable prefab homes. All of these structures make something beautiful and functional out of, well, garbage.

Old barns and condemned buildings are full of value if they are responsibly deconstructed and reused. Bottles and cans that fill so many trash and recycling bins can become an affordable and beautiful home or greenhouse. Reuse building material; it’s sustainable and artistic, and it allows quality construction supplies to live again.

via Reuse Building Materials and Give Old Supplies New Life |

Prefab and Preservation, Together At Last at Dovecote Studios : TreeHugger

Activists in historic preservation often are asked “when is a building too far gone to save?” British architects Haworth Tompkins demonstrate that when there is a will, the answer is never. At Aldeburgh Music’s ‘creative campus’ is based at Snape Maltings in Suffolk, Archdaily describes how “Nestled within the shell of an abandoned building, the firm responded to the existing conditions with a touch of sensitivity, uniting the old structure with the new aesthetic.

Read the whole article via Prefab and Preservation, Together At Last at Dovecote Studios : TreeHugger.

Reuse and Repurpose – A Garden Shed made out of Salvaged Building Materials

Don’t throw out the old stuff – reuse and repurpose!

Almost 3 years ago good neighbors and friends of ours moved from Maryland to a little cabin on Lake Jackson in Virginia. Naturally, I’m still a little sad that they moved about 2 hours away from us – if you have great neighbors you just don’t want to see them leave! But seeing how beautiful Lake Jackson is and what a quaint little community they are lucky to be part of, I can’t really blame them.

So, for the past 3 years they’ve been hard at work renovating every little square inch of their cabin and turning it into a beautiful home. The cabin was originally built in the 1930s and needed a lot of updating to say the least. One of those times when we were talking about their progress, my friend mentioned how they were about to donate all their old doors and windows. Oh no no no no was my immediate response, you are going to do no such thing! You’ll either hold on to it or bring it to my house!


I apologize, Habitat for Humanity – I love and support your mission but in this case I just had to keep them from dropping it all off at one of your stores. They had a treasure chest of building materials at their hands and I knew they could do something amazing with it.

The end result? They took my advice plea to heart and saved it all. They are now the proud owners of what is probably the greenest garden/potting shed in all of Virginia and Maryland! They reused and recycled and repurposed … the old siding, doors, trim, windows, beams, stained glass and even a wagon wheel that used to be a lamp! It still needs some decoration and plants of course but it’s already looking pretty spectacular!

I am proud of you Karen and Gary – you took my advice to a whole different level!


via Reuse and Repurpose – A Garden Shed made out of Salvaged Building Materials.

New life for old buildings: Adaptive reuse in Pittsburgh

The Old Iron City Brewery

South Hills High School opened its doors on Mt. Washington in 1917 and closed them in 1986.  The sprawling structure sat vacant for more than twenty years, during which time the Mt. Washington Community Development Corp. replaced the building’s roof and otherwise kept it stable.  A developer finally purchased the building from Pittsburgh Public Schools in 2006 and thanks to the keen eye of architects Rothschild Doyno Collaborative and Thoughtful Balance, it has been reincarnated as the South Hills Retirement Residence, 106 units of senior housing with space for community assets such as a day care facility.  The project was recently awarded LEED Gold certification accruing to a mix of co-generation and solar photo-voltaic panels that provide 70% of the building’s power, among other sustainable features.

The South Hills project is a shining example of adaptive reuse, or the re-purposing of older properties for a use other than their original design.  Taking this route can be cheaper than new development, and financing for these projects is often easier to secure.  Pittsburgh is filled with older buildings eager to be re-imagined including office buildings with a prime downtown address and schools whose architectural pedigree has placed them on the National Register of Historic Places.

Projects currently underway in the city include the RiverVue Apartments, 218 rental units in the former State Office Building that boast Point State Park as their front yard, and the expansion of 31st Street Studios, hulking former brick and metal warehouses that are morphing, Transformer-like, into Hollywood East in the shadow of the 31st Street Bridge.

Who are the next best candidates for adaptive reuse in Pittsburgh?  It all starts downtown at the James H. Reed Building on Sixth Avenue, former headquarters of the Reed Smith law firm.  The building’s elegant entrance screams “hotel!” and who better to do the retrofit than Kimpton Hotels, masters of adaptive reuse?  Imagine “Hotel Monaco” over the doorway and a jewel-toned lobby acting as the living room lounge urbanites crave.  Around the corner is the Henry W. Oliver Building designed by architect Daniel Burnham and close by is the Union Trust Building, whose stunning mansard roof commemorates the cathedral that formerly stood in its place.  Both structures are woefully underutilized and if commercial isn’t the answer, perhaps they’re prime for downtown residential?

Continue reading New life for old buildings: Adaptive reuse in Pittsburgh

Architecture A-Z: D is for demolition –

Architecture A-Z: D is for demolition


The Chicago & Alton Depot was built in 1879 and moved and restored in the 1990s.

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The Chicago & Alton Depot was built in 1879 and moved and restored in the 1990s.


The Chicago & Alton Depot was built in 1879 and moved and restored in the 1990s.

Read more here:

Here’s another entry in our elemental, alphabetical guide to Kansas City’s built environment. The feature appears here every other week or so. Find earlier entries in the series collected in “Architecture A to Z,” published by Kansas City Star Books.


The Chicago & Alton Railroad used this two-story station in Independence beginning in 1879. In the 1990s the depot was threatened with demolition (to continue a theme) but a friends group formed, moved the depot to its current home at 318 W. Pacific Ave. and spent several years renovating. The depot, open to the public, stands by railroad tracks near the National Frontier Trails Museum.

Demolition I

Cities rise and fall. Buildings come and go. People settle in, move on, construct their dreams on the bones of the past.

Despite good intentions and efforts to preserve, historic structures have little claim to permanence. It often takes more money and power than neighborhood preservationists can muster to save a landmark or a piece of beloved history. For every Union Station and Folly Theater that survives in our town (after much debate, effort and check writing), there must be handfuls of Grand Opera Houses, brutalist office buildings and historic homes that slip away.

Soon to meet that fate (probably) is a 111-year-old house at the south edge of midtown with a brawny stone porch and a Shingle Style exterior done in gray slate (a rare touch). It’s known as the Donaldson House, 4347 Oak St. You can have it for $1 plus the considerable house-moving costsand become a preservation hero, especially to the members of the Southmoreland Neighborhood Association who have long hoped to save it. The Kansas City Art Institute, which wants to build student housing or something else on the site, has been trying to dump the little-used Donaldson House for more than a dozen years. Now an 18-month clock is winding down and a demolition green light is expected to come from the city’s Historic Preservation Office in May.

Southmoreland neighbors have watched for decades as the Art Institute and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art expanded their footprints by demolishing once stately houses.

“We love that the Art Institute is a vibrant place, but we have to balance that with maintaining the residential sense of neighborhood,” said Greg Corwin, Southmoreland president.

For its part, the Art Institute says that after demolition, it will keep the lot as green space until it decides what it most needs to build, something, says a spokesperson, that “will fit well with the fabric of the neighborhood.”

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The Donaldson House, at 4347 Oak St., is owned by the Kansas City Art Institute, which plans to demolish it in mid-May. The prominent circular stone porch and the slate shingles are a rare combination. The home dates to 1911.

The Donaldson House, at 4347 Oak St., is owned by the Kansas City Art Institute, which plans to demolish it in mid-May. The prominent circular stone porch and the slate shingles are a rare combination. The home dates to 1911.

Read more here:

Demolition II

One of the most astounding episodes in local real estate history is still playing out, but one aspect has come to a close: the deconstruction of a never-finished office building designed by a global architectural star, Moshe Safdie. For the last six years or so, I’ve watched the 11-story, concrete-skinned West Edge tower go up, stall and now, in the last several months, come down piece by piece. Impossible to recount the saga here, but, in brief: What a waste! Already steel beams are being installed for a replacement office building, designed by 360 Architecture, which will rise above the intact garage. And, eventually, plans might coalesce to finish the adjacent boutique hotel to the south, which was part of the original Safdie complex.

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Recent demolition work on the West Edge complex invovled heavy equipment and torches.


Recent demolition work on the West Edge complex invovled heavy equipment and torches.

Read more here:

D is for dumb. And dust-to-dust.

Steve Paul, senior writer and editor, 816-234-4762,, @sbpaul.

via Architecture A-Z: D is for demolition –

Green Plans For Disney Studios

This mural (painted by Alexander Austin) at 31st and Troost includes images of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.
Laura Spencer / KCUR

In the early 1920s, when Walt Disney was in his early 20s, he was heading up a struggling animation studio on Kansas City’s east side. A small field mouse became his pet, lived in a drawer in his office, and shared his food. That mouse would later provide the inspiration for Mickey Mouse. Disney’s studio, where early animators cut their teeth making black-and-white silent cartoons, is still struggling. There are now plans for a green future.

Paying Tribute in Missouri

Walt Disney was born in Chicago. But he spent much of his childhood in Missouri, firstMarceline (about 125 miles northeast of Kansas City), and then Kansas City. Disney was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 1993. And Butch Rigby – a film buff and founder of Screenland Theatres – recalls a conversation from that time with a Kansas City radio DJ, John Hart.

“And he (Hart) said, ‘Hey, there is not one single place in Kansas City that reflects the fact that one of the most famous people in the world came from here, worked here, started here,'” says Rigby.

At first, the idea was to build a statue in honor of Walt Disney. Then there were talks about a possible Disney Museum in Union Station. But those ideas fizzled out. Today, plans are still in development to re-open Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram studios, just east of Troost.

Laugh-O-Gram Studio: A Training Ground for Animators       

Butch Rigby stands outside the two-story red-brick building at the corner of 31st and Forest. “This is still just a small 10,000 foot building,” says Rigby. “And it’s not a giant museum project like people want to imagine. It is, however, equally as important.”

The second floor of the McConhahay Building housed the first cartoon studio owned by Walt Disney. It was a training ground for pioneering animators like Ub IwerksHugh Harman and Rudolph Ising. But Disney was not known for his financial prowess, and the company filed for bankruptcy in July 1923. Disney then moved to Hollywood, California with an unfinished “Alice’s Wonderland.”

“What’s significant is that some of those kids would follow Walt (Disney) and Ub (Iwerks) out to California and they would literally found 20th century cartoon animation for the movies,” says Rigby.

“Ub Iwerks was the prolific genius artist who would draw, a few years after they left Kansas City, Mickey Mouse; Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising, they founded a little company, Harman-Ising (Cartoons). They came up with “Merrie Melodies” and “Looney Tunes” (at Warner Brothers). Those two guys would end up training two young animators, Hanna and Barbera.”

Back from Collapse

By 1996, this building was slated for demolition. The roof had collapsed on to the second floor, and that floor nearly collapsed on to the first. When Rigby and Shipp bought it on behalf of Thank You Walt Disney for just over $12,000, it was thought that the building couldn’t be saved.

“Very slowly, but very surely, we’ve taken it one step at a time,” says Rigby. “(We’ve) removed all the demolition, put up scaffolding to hold all the walls up, brought in bricklayers, brought in framers, brought in new concrete floors, so now we have a cool shell that is ready for programming and for use as an interactive historic site.”

But getting that “cool shell” ready has taken more than a decade, and it’s been expensive. Rigby estimates about $700,000 has been invested so far; this includes in-kind services and the bulk of a $400,000 match from the Walt Disney Family Foundation. Doors and windows remain boarded up, covered with cartoon figures.

Continue reading Green Plans For Disney Studios

Design*Sponge | Your home for all things Design. Home Tours, DIY Project, City Guides, Shopping Guides, Before & Afters and much more

I’ve always loved exposed brick walls inside homes, but it can be difficult to bring warmth and coziness to these industrial spaces. I love so many elements in this apartment renovation from Cassidy Hughes, an interior designer living in London: the open shelving in the kitchen, the minimal new bathroom layout and the eye-catching citron-colored quilted sofa in the living room, just to name a few. This space feels relaxed and lived in but not overcrowded, and I love that they kept the salvaged look consistent throughout with industrial-style lighting fixtures and rustic furniture pieces. Nicely done, Cassidy! — Kate

via Design*Sponge | Your home for all things Design. Home Tours, DIY Project, City Guides, Shopping Guides, Before & Afters and much more.

Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

What do you do with retired wind turbine blades? Why, you turn them into a super fun playground of course! Wikado Playground in The Netherlands is a renovation of play area in desperate need of attention. 2012Architecten handled the design and renovation of the area for Kinderparadijs Meidoorn and made use of five discarded rotor blades to create a maze-like play area with slides, towers, nets and plenty of interactive elements.

via Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.

Group Launches $100 Million Home Rehab

An innovative non-profit group has launched an aggressive $100 million campaign to rehabilitate thousands of homes left to decay in blighted urban neighborhoods as a result of the U.S. foreclosure crisis. The organization has qualified for financing to repair vacant homes from bankers to help damaged neighborhoods.

The group’s chief executive says a new initiative launched by Builders of Hope, based in Raleigh, North Carolina will help rebuild neighborhoods that have had thousands of homes left vacant by the real estate collapse.

“The Upcycle program is specifically designed to address the many interconnected housing issues that the nation is struggling with,” said CEO Nancy Welsh. “The lack of affordable rentals, the surplus of foreclosed houses, the neighborhoods suffering from blight and the inefficient state of our existing housing stock.”

The effort will employ thousands of construction workers and real estate agents to help communities re-populate neighborhoods, which may help to stabilize home prices and increase safety in many areas to attract investors.

Continue reading Group Launches $100 Million Home Rehab

Historic pub set to be demolished to make room for new shopping centre – Community – Halifax Courier

CGI of the redevelopment of Pennine Shopping Centre in Halifax.

A 220-year-old pub is set for demolition after as councillors gave the green light to a new shopping centre.

The Pump Room, on the junction of Church Street and New Road, Halifax, will make way for car parking and access to the new development.

The Pennine Shopping Centre, will be sited on Horton Street and Union Street, and will house large retail units designed to attract big names to Calderdale.

Calderdale Council Planning Committee met to discuss the plans put forward by Royal London Property Fund for a three-storey development.The plans show two lower levels containing 500 car parking spaces while the top floor will include retail units and a cafe and restaurant.

CAMRA pubs officer Peter Robinson spoke at the meeting highlighting that The Pump Room is one o fthe oldest buildings in the area.

“It was erected in 1791. It pre-dates most of the other buildings round there by at least half a century,” he said.

“Here we have a case where a someone wants to demolish a viable pub. The Pump Room offers something distinct and attracts a diverse cross section of people – the loss of the Pump Room could have a knock-on effect for nearby pubs.”

Also facing the bulldozer is the old filling station on Church Street and the New Road business park.

Access to the site for shoppers will be on Church Street with delivery access on New Road.

Concerns were raised about the increase in traffic on what is already one of Halifax’s most congested sections of road.

Councillor David Hardy (Lib Dem, Elland) said: “Articulated lorries struggle to pass each other on this road already because it’s so tight.

“I have great concerns with how this application is now. Particularly Church Street and access for wagons up New Road. To me large vehicle access ought to be from Church Street not New Road.

“I cannot back it as it is now.”

Coun Martin Peel (Con, Sowerby Bridge) said: “This is an excellent scheme. Our officers have drawn up conditions to work with the developer and overcome many of the concerns raised by this committee.”

Graham Connel, of Colliers, who is acting as agent for Royal London, said they would work with the Council and a further application will be submitted once finalised plans are in place.

via Historic pub set to be demolished to make room for new shopping centre – Community – Halifax Courier.

A Win-Win for Packers, Moving Houses Slated for Demolition – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News

Packers News Release

With the Lambeau Field expansion project underway, a few houses are in the way of a new parking lot.

The expansion on the south end of Lambeau Field means parking spaces for the media have to be pushed back to make room.

The only problem?

“The media parking lot itself will stretch out over the two lots where these homes are,” Packers Director of Public Affairs Aaron Popkey said.

But instead of a wrecking ball, the Packers sold the houses to DeVooght House & Building Movers.

The Valders business approached the Packers about buying the homes. They’re being moved intact and put in storage for a future owner.

“As soon as we knew these houses were going to be removed or demolished, we contacted them right away and said ‘We’re the Green Bay Packers, we have to go green,’ so let’s salvage these houses and recycle them,” co-owner Don DeVooght said.

The process takes careful planning and operation.

“Just about everything you see done here, especially working with the Packers and Myron Construction, they’re very safety conscious so are we,” DeVooght said.

“We put these large steel beams underneath that you we slide them in, and once they’re in we jack the house up, once that’s done we roll it off the foundation.”

The process started on Wednesday and will be finished when the houses are moved Sunday. The garages will be moved on Monday.

The $6,000 profit the Packers made from selling the houses will being paid forward for more housing.

“We said, hey, let’s turn that right around in the spirit of things and donate it to Habitat for Humanity,” Popkey said. “Their mission is obviously to work with folks who are unable to obtain homes on their own.”

Next week, the Packers can begin building the new parking lot to be completed this summer.

If the team needs to move any other homes due to the stadium expansion, it will try to repeat this.

“That’s the best way to go. It’s the most sustainable way,” Popkey said.

via A Win-Win for Packers, Moving Houses Slated for Demolition – WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News.

Failed Nuclear Power Plant Transformed Into Amusement Park : TreeHugger

Amusement parks can seem banal if you’re fed up of overpriced food, long lines and not-so-great rides. But this extraordinary amusement park in Germany has an edge over its competitors — it’s built out of an abandoned nuclear power plant.

The immense cooling tower houses a swing ride, while its outside walls have been converted to a 130 foot tall climbing wall. In addition, there are more traditional rides like a carousel, merry-go-round and Ferris wheel, attracting approximately 600,000 visitors each year.

Wunderland Kalkar/Promo image

Located near Kalkar, Germany, this “Wunderland” park is a great example of adaptive reuse that could also solve the problem of what to do with the country’s nuclear power sites as it plans to completely phase out nuclear power by 2022.

According to the Daily Mail, this nuclear power plant was never used, though it was supposed to be the world’s most hi-tech nuclear power plant when it was constructed in 1972. But after many protests and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the multi-million dollar project was cancelled 12 years later, with a Dutch businessman stepping in and buying the plant in 1995.

harry_nl/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The park now boasts several hundred hotel rooms, bars and restaurants (operated out of the plant itself it seems), dozens of rides, a museum, miniature golf and tennis courts. But is it safe? Well, the Daily Mail quotes a park spokeswoman as saying:

People come from all over the world because they are completely fascinated by the park. It’s totally unique and that’s what draws people in. It’s not something you see every day. Some people worry it’s unsafe but it is 100 per cent safe. Because the nuclear power station has never been put to use, the whole complex is guaranteed free of radiation.

Good to know; thrill-seekers can find out for themselves at Wunderland Kalkar(website).

via Failed Nuclear Power Plant Transformed Into Amusement Park : TreeHugger.

Ala. foundation builds architectural salvage business

A doorway and transom light on a 19th century home in New Orleans. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A doorway and transom light on a 19th century home in New Orleans. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) – Decades of local history lie almost forgotten in a warm, musty basement downtown.

Doors that once swung open to show off new bungalows or even mansions are neatly stacked, waiting to be refurbished. Windows that looked out on Huntsville’s evolution from watercress to Wikipedia are piled high, ready to move back out in the sunshine.

At the bottom of a steep staircase, architectural doodads like doorknobs and light fixtures plus more than a century of history fill the dusty basement of Harrison Brothers Hardware on the Courthouse Square.

Access to these treasures was once limited, but now the Historic Huntsville Foundation Architectural Warehouse is open to the public. Warehouse hours are 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturday of each month, other times by appointment.

Read the entire article via Ala. foundation builds architectural salvage business.

Medieval barn rescued by English Heritage –

The Great Barn at Harmansworth rescued by English Heritage [photo cc by-sa Jim Bush / Pollards Hill Cyclists

Middlesex, UK – The Great Barn at Harmonsworth near Heathrow has been bought by English Heritage for £20,000. After repair work the building will be open to the public in April 2012.

The oak framed Great Barn was built in 1426 and used to store grain. It is 60 metres long, 12 metres wide and 11 metres high, with 13 huge oak trusses. ‘The cathedral of Essex’, as it was called by John Betjeman, was put on the buildings at risk register in 2009.

English Heritage say ‘Grade I listed, the barn ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace for its exceptional architectural and historic interest.’

English Heritage

via Medieval barn rescued by English Heritage –

Surgical Intervention Modernizes Space in Abandoned Barn | Designs & Ideas on Dornob

Dornob is a great source for design information like this – go check them out.

Picturesque and idyllic in an organically aged way, there was little about this lot’s aesthetics that Architecture Abaton images by Bethlehem Imaz wished to change.

On the outside, every attempt was made to preserve the character of this quaint old structure – additions like wood-and-steel doors look intentionally rusticated to match the aged stone walls, while a pool out front appears likewise timeless.

On the inside, simplicity itself: wide-open spaces, but done in stark white to make it fit for dwelling. Concrete comes into play but only as needed, and primarily in inward-facing exterior spaces like the courtyard.

Around the property, retaining walls made of local stone are clearly new on close inspection, but again reinforce the original elements as well.

via Surgical Intervention Modernizes Space in Abandoned Barn | Designs & Ideas on Dornob.

Kevin Riordan: Woodbury seeks to boost its profile and build its brand –

Workers finish up inside the new County Seat Diner in Woodbury. "Woodbury was a historic town center. That was the identity that was stolen from it," consultant Cindy Williams says. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)

Workers finish up inside the new County Seat Diner in Woodbury. “Woodbury was a historic town center. That was the identity that was stolen from it,” consultant Cindy Williams says. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)

Woodbury was trying to revitalize its downtown when I was a young reporter there in 1980, and this likable little city hasn’t stopped trying since.

So I’m tempted to suggest “Woodbury: The Work’s Never Done” as a new slogan for the Gloucester County seat.

Fortunately, civic leaders have a better idea. They’re asking citizens, businesspeople, and others to help them come up with the best way to “brand” Woodbury.

The timing looks auspicious: New dining spots are opening; $26,000 has been raised to install a handsome clock at the former train station on Railroad Avenue; and the vacant G.G. Green building on Broad Street is being saved from demolition.

via Kevin Riordan: Woodbury seeks to boost its profile and build its brand –

Pitt’s foundation to help redevelop long-closed Kansas City school |

KANSAS CITY, Mo. _ A bond forged in storm-ravaged New Orleans between actor Brad Pitt and a local architecture firm is bearing fruit in Kansas City _ and may show the path forward to reusing dozens of empty schools.

The long-closed Bancroft School will be renovated into affordable apartments and a community center with the aid of the Make It Right Foundation founded by Pitt, a Hollywood superstar with deep Missouri roots, and the creative talents of BNIM Architects, his helper in New Orleans.

“Brad Pitt is a frustrated architect,” said Bob Berkebile, a founding partner at BNIM. “If he wasn’t making millions as an actor, he’d be an architect.”

The $14 million project calls for the existing 103-year-old brick school building to be converted into 29 affordable apartments with a 6,250-square-foot community center on the main floor. A new building with 21 apartments will also developed.

The community area will house the office of the Manheim Neighborhood Association and provide space for outreach programs offered by Truman Medical Center. A foot patrol station for the Kansas City Police Department also will be part of the mix.

The development also will include a secure garage for 50 vehicles that will feature an environmentally friendly green roof.

The two-story school was closed a dozen years ago and occupies a 2.7-acre site. Currently, the Kansas City School District has 38 closed buildings scattered throughout the city, including 26 shut down two years ago in a major downsizing.

Backers of the Bancroft renovation say it could be a good model for how to redevelop other closed schools. The district had set a deadline of last week for proposals to reuse or “repurpose” its inventory of shuttered buildings.

“I hope it will inform the other repurposing projects,” Berkebile said. “We’ve submitted proposals for three schools.”

BNIM was one of several firms chosen by Pitt and the Make It Right Foundation in 2007 to create designs for affordable homes that could be built in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina. About 150 homes have been built so far.

Continue reading Pitt’s foundation to help redevelop long-closed Kansas City school |

Giving old concrete buildings new life – Journal of Commerce

The Pacific Palisades twin concrete towers are being refurbished with a new exterior and interior to give the structures, built in the 60s, new life.

Vancouver architect Wing Leung calls it giving old concrete buildings new life.

Others call it renewing or recycling buildings.

While heritage buildings are often recycled, there is an emerging trend to reuse concrete buildings constructed in the 1960s and 70s.

“It will become more and more prominent in the future,” said Leung, who is spearheading the redesign of one of the largest such projects in Vancouver – the Pacific Palisades twin towers.

This trend is one that architects like Leung said he sees catching on as larger cities, such as Vancouver, become more concerned with sustainability and the environmental impact of removing large concrete structures from congested city areas.

It’s just not Vancouver that’s thinking this way.

In Toronto, the Mayor’s Tower Renewal project is a major effort looking at up to 1,000 buildings from that era and attempting to upgrade these older highrise residential concrete structures to become more sustainable.

A 2011 University of Toronto symposium on tower recycling focused on the Mayor’s project and the worldwide impact of this kind of activity.

The Pacific Palisades Hotel twin towers started out as apartments in 1966, but then became a 233-unit hotel and apartment complex.

They were recently acquired by Austeville Properties for conversion back to rental units.

“This is a very enlightened client,” said Leung, adding the work could have been phased in.

But, Austeville decided to strip the exterior and gut the interiors.

“It was also an interesting project,” he said.

Removing some finishes restored the era’s post-modernist design on exterior lower faces.

Continue reading Giving old concrete buildings new life – Journal of Commerce

INTERVIEW: Inhabitat Talks to Housing Reclaimed Author Jessica Kellner About Debt Free Homes | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

If you’re one of the hardcore DIYers out there looking into building your own home, be sure to pick up Housing Reclaimed: Sustainable Homes for Next to Nothing by Jessica Kellner.

As editor at Natural Home & Garden Magazine, Kellner has come across her fair share of beautiful and sustainable homes and now she expands on how a number of people around the country have built their houses without debt despite the economic hardships of the last few years.

While it may seem daunting to design an energy efficient house, source sustainable and reclaimed materials and finally build it, Kellner provides a slew of tips and ideas on how to tackle this challenge for practically nothing down.

INTERVIEW: Inhabitat Talks to Housing Reclaimed Author Jessica Kellner About Debt Free Homes | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World.