Written by Rachel Bowdon
There are so many great stories of how individuals, organizations, and cities in the U.S. have been preserving, reusing, and retrofitting older buildings to better the economy, the community, and the environment. From Seattle to Buffalo, the examples are endless. This week, we want to go international and share how cities as diverse as Toronto, Sydney, Buenos Aires, and London are transforming older and historic buildings into sustainable community assets, and how individuals are envisioning the historic buildings of the future. Check out the stories below - you are sure to be inspired!
"Much of the City of Toronto is built from bricks made from the clay dug out of the Don Valley, and the brickworks continued in operation until 1980. After it ran out of clay, it sat empty for years until Evergreen, ‘a national charity that makes cities more livable,’ took it over. Many of the existing buildings have been restored and repurposed for public uses, ‘a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably.’ It also has an incredibly popular farmers market."
"The Shed by Richard Peters Associates is a historic adaptive reuse project that celebrates sustainable, efficient living. Located outside Sydney, Australia just steps from the Coogee beach, the industrial structure has been transformed into an open-air home that showcases remnants of the building’s former use. The Shed is a beautiful adaptive reuse project that combines green building with modern design on a tight budget. […] By reusing existing structures, history is preserved, carbon footprints are lessened, and innovative and interesting living spaces can flourish and inspire."
"Today, a fascinating, forward-thinking adaptive reuse housing concept revolving around the planet’s dwindling supply of fossil fuels is sure to appeal to those of you who can’t quite get down with the idea of living several miles out to sea on a decommissioned oil rig."
"A house that used to belong to Brazilian artist Victor Brecheret spent decades unoccupied serving as a Foundation and deposit until it was acquired by architect Guilherme Torres. In a stunning remake, Torres converted the two-storey 1300 sq. feet space into his residence and studio. Without making any changes to the floor plan and leaving the construction almost intact, he updated the space with gaps, openings and coatings."
"Aspiring interior designer Lucie Sadakova has come up with a striking concept to bring more green space and nourishment into a scruffy part of London. And, despite being in a sense all about an outdoor activity, it is in fact an interior transformation, a proposed adaptive reuse of an old building way past its prime. […] For her final degree project at university, Sadakova designed a concept she calls Multileveled Vertical Urban Allotments, which in plain English means hollowing out the guts of an old warehouse, opening up its roof and (enlarged) windows to the elements, and filling the space with a sort of stacked series of green plots that could be gardened by nearby residents."
This article describes four examples of sustainable refurbishments around the world including: The Hespeler Library in Cambridge, Canada; the Unilever House in London; 100 Princedale Road in London; and the 1,200 Buildings Programme in Melbourne.
Well Designed Travel: Et Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires – Apartment Therapy
"Part of the well-known El Ateneo chain of shops, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is on the list of most visited bookstores in the world. Housed in a historic theater, this bookstore attracts just as many photographers as it does readers, and inspires a few thoughts about the reuse of architecture in a city. [...] A tourist attraction to be sure, over 1 million people visit the shop annually."
Giving Old Concrete Buildings New Life - Journal of Commerce
"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."
Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.