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Surely some buildings are too ugly or difficult to save? Sometimes when faced with a truly unlovable building it is easiest to just call in the bulldozers and start again from zero. Although we are privileged to work mostly with listed and highly significant buildings, we do strongly believe that with an innovative design and a bold client, any building can be saved, made useful, and transformed into a stunning contribution to it’s city or context. We also believe that there is a strong environmental and social sustainability argument to be made for the adaptation of almost any building you might care to mention.

The following are in my opinion amongst the most inspirational projects at the cutting edge of what can be achieved through conservative adaptation. Each project throws down the gauntlet to the most challenging and frankly ugliest buildings you could expect to find, and achieves the seemingly impossible: richness, delight, and best of all; a new found appreciation and respect for that that was there all along, but that remained unlovable.

CF Moller Concrete Silo Reuse 01
1. Siloetten – C F Moller – (www.cfmoller.com)

MVRDV Concrete Silo Reuse 01
2. Gemini House – MVRDV – (www.mvrdv.nl)

Heinrich Boll Architects Steam Blower House 01
3. Steam Blower House – Heinrich Boll Architects – (www.architekt-boell.de)

Peter Zumthor Factory Reuse Hotel 01
Peter Zumthor Factory Reuse Hotel 02
4. Meelfabriek Factory – Peter Zumthor – (www.demeelfabriek.nl)

Ricardo Boffill Cement Factory Reuse 01
Ricardo Boffill Cement Factory Reuse 02
5. Cement Factory Studios – Ricardo Bofill – (www.ricardobofill.com)

So perhaps these buildings were not the most attractive that their cities had to offer before they were re-born, but they are all a part of the same story. Even if the architecture and materiality of a 1960s factory is slightly less nostalgic than that of the an 1860s factory, they are equally relevant in the on-going narrative of boom and bust, prosperity and austerity, the fortunes of a place and the marks of a time. Often it is the inherent ugliness and weight of these buildings that permits such audacious intervention; Protestors against development are must less objectionate to holes opened in their local concrete eye-sore, and that same solidity and mass of structure can survive a large amount of re-modelling and addition.

Studio 8 is currently devising strategies for the re-use of a 1950s silo within the curtelage of a Grade 1 listed 18th Century Mill, and although any use besides the vertical storage of grain will seem somewhat contrived, the spaces within are undeniably raw, powerfully monumental, and a thrill to inhabit. We feel it is an exceptional architectural challenge and strive for it to stand proud amongst these other examples, the best and brightest post industrial miracle re-births.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Silo Reuse 01
Ditherington South Silo – Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios – (www.fcbstudios.com)

Charlie

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3 thoughts on “The Unlovables

  1. Pingback: Arrive. Thrive. Revive. | 8late

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