10 Repurposed Industrial Buildings That Were Previously Abandoned

7. The North Adams Industrial Complex, United States

mass-moca (Image: Beyond My Ken, cc-sa-4.0)

Listed on the National Historic Register, the industrial and manufacturing complex of North Adams, Massachusetts is a sprawling network of 26 buildings connected by alleyways, back streets, elevated walkways and courtyards. The earliest of the buildings were established in the late 1700s, when the site was home to an ironworks, a brickyard, cabinet-makers, marble works and machine shops that oversaw the construction of parts for other industrial buildings like saw mills.

mass-moca-3 (Image: Mass MoCA)

By the 1860s, the Arnold Print Works took up a large portion of the buildings and soon became one of the largest employers of the area. For decades, the shop employed thousands of people and was known as the nation’s largest source of printed textiles; it was during its nearly 100-year operation that the remaining buildings were constructed. In 1942, they consolidated and moved into a smaller location, and the industrial complex was bought by the Sprague Electric Company, where area scientists set about manufacturing products for the war effort.

mass-moca-2 (Image: Shane Kelly, cc-nc-nd-4.0)

Sprague made the transition to consumer electronics, but the manufacture of their components was gradually sent overseas and the plant closed in 1985. It was only a year later that the city established the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in the abandoned space. With considerable help from private donations, the museum opened not only as an art gallery, but as a center that could take full advantage of the massive space within the sprawling complex. In addition to just showcasing painters, sculptors and photographers, there’s also space within the museum for dance and theatre performances, showing films with the addition of live music, and interactive exhibition spaces where there’s a constantly changing program of activities for kids and adults alike.

The huge amount of space isn’t without its challenges, though, and most of that comes in the form of the funding that’s needed to fill those spaces. In order to make the most of the room that they have – which will be about 260,000 square feet after a planned expansion – they’ll be reaching out to area artists and organizations to form long-term partnerships that will allow them to fill all of their space and will give artists a place to exhibit their work.

6. Peanut Factory, France

repurposed-peanut-factory-calais (Image: Bang Architectes)

As mentioned before, part of the difficultly in repurposing industrial spaces is the vast amounts of empty space within them. With typically high ceilings and large rooms, it can be a challenge to find something else to put in the space that needs the same type of layout.

repurposed-peanut-factory-calais-2 (Image: Bang Architectes)

An old abandoned peanut factory in Calais, France, has found the perfect new look for its new life. Converted into a skate park, the huge interior space is perfect for skateboarders, rollerbladers and bikers that not only need some distance, but some height. The adaptive reuse project was part of an urban renewal initiative started by the city to create something more than a rather bleak, abandoned landscape along the city’s canal district.

repurposed-peanut-factory-calais-3 (Image: Bang Architectes)

The architects even went so far as to remove most of the east and west walls, replacing them with a steel mesh that not only discourage graffiti artists, but also makes the most of the natural light. The high ceiling serves to lessen the noise within the hall, and the dimpled fabrics stretched along the walls help to have the same effect. The floor of the skate park is overlooked by a slightly separate space for spectators, and the planners took complete advantage of the space by creating an adjacent skate club and youth center.

5. The Cotton Gin Factory, United States

goat-farm-atlanta-gin-factory (Image: Keizers, cc-sa-3.0)

Sitting on 12 acres just outside of Atlanta, Georgia’s downtown center is an old cotton gin factory. A remnant of southern life in the 19th century, it was purchased in 2010 by two developers who weren’t entirely sure what they were going to do with the space – which includes 12 buildings. Originally, the plan was more along the lines of creating a residential or commercial space, but it wasn’t long before they turned to a more non-traditional idea – an artists’ commune.

Part of the original plan for the site has been kept the same – there are still loft apartments and studio workshops that will be rented out, but the majority of the space includes exhibition spaces, auditoriums, dance studios and classrooms, all the site of anything and everything artistic that you could possibly think of.

goat-farm-atlanta-gin-factory-2 (Image: BurnAway, cc-4.0)

There are shows from established artists and artists capable of things you’d never dream of, too – including performances by the Georgia Tech Laptop Orchestra and another group that creates their music from snippets of the themes of video games. There’s even a regular event where visitors each come with a homemade meal and swap dishes.

goat-farm-atlanta-gin-factory-3 (Image: centermez, cc-4.0)

Because part of the cotton gin factory’s space has been turned into real estate, the income from those portions keep the doors open on exhibitions, performances and interactive art events. It also allows them to open their doors for artists that might get a pretty skeptical reception anywhere else, which, in turn, allows them to advertise that they have art and artists that you won’t see anywhere else.

Part of the difficulty in opening the revamped industrial complex was naming it, so they settled on something that captured the spirit of the factory that it had once been, and the farming stronghold that Georgia once was. They called it simply, the Goat Farm, and there’s a few of those there, too.

 
 
 

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