10 Repurposed Industrial Buildings That Were Previously Abandoned

The massive buildings that form the backbone of the world’s industry can be ugly, ungainly monstrosities. And when they’re abandoned, they can sit empty and unused for decades, becoming nothing more than an eyesore. Or, they can be repurposed into some pretty amazing things. Part 3 of our adaptive reuse series explores former industrial buildings creatively re-imagined for modern uses.

10. The C.A. Kilger Machine Works, United States

kilger-machine-works-sourthern-pacific-brewing-3 (Image: Mike Chino via Inhabitat)

Brewpubs are a dime a dozen, but doing something incredibly unique with an old industrial building that was once a local landmark is a sure way to open the doors to a community glad to see their heritage being honored.

Southern Pacific Brewing took its named from the railway line that once ran through San Francisco in the early 1900s. At one time, it was almost constantly employed shipping San Francisco’s products to the rest of the country, a lifeline for craftsmen and industry workers alike.

kilger-machine-works-sourthern-pacific-brewing-2 (Image: Mike Chino via Inhabitat)

Now, the brewery has taken an old warehouse that was once home to a machine shop and, in an inspired example of adaptive reuse, turned it into a brewpub with seating for up to 300 people. The entire project was an amazing testament to the idea of reuse and reclamation, with many of the features constructed from reclaimed materials that the architects and builders found when they first took a look at the space they had to work with. Other reclaimed materials came from a nearby barn, an abandoned church, and structures that were still standing in the old machine shop, torn down to make the wide-open space of the interior of the pub.

kilger-machine-works-sourthern-pacific-brewing (Image: Mike Chino via Inhabitat)

The taps are mounted on an old metal beam that came from a local theatre, and all the tables and chairs were made from local, reclaimed wood.

Perhaps most breathtaking are the skylights; once dirty windows were replaced with new skylights, letting in enough sunlight that the trees planted inside the building will be able to continue to thrive.

9. Abandoned Coca-Cola Factory, Belgium

repurposed-coca-cola-factory-belgium (Image: Imagen Subliminal via Holcim Foundation)

In 2006, the old, abandoned Coca-Cola factory in Oostkamp, Belgium, was bought by the city with the idea of making it a massive, eco-friendly hub for all of the city’s public services. The architectural firm in charge of the project took the existing structure and added a whole host of features that would make it more environmentally friendly, from waterproofing the outside of the building and skinning it to look like a forest, to installing systems that react to the changing weather outside to keep the inside of the buildings a carefully regulated and ever-pleasant temperature.

repurposed-coca-cola-factory-belgium-2 (Image: Imagen Subliminal via Holcim Foundation)

Part of the problem with repurposing industrial buildings can come when trying to figure out how to manage the massive interior space and high ceilings that many structures are constructed with. Oostkamp’s new city hall has lowered the high ceilings with cloud-like structures of glass reinforced gypsum, increasing the insulation of the building and giving it the appearance of an organic sky.

repurposed-coca-cola-factory-belgium-3 (Image: Imagen Subliminal via Holcim Foundation)

Crucial to this adaptive reuse project was one basic idea – making the daily operations of the government open and accessible to all of the city’s citizens. Interior rooms are made from glass modules, meetings are held in wide, open spaces, and rooms can be moved at will to accommodate whatever activities are going on during any particular day. There’s solar panels, an outdoor park made from recycled materials, and a network of communication systems – as complicated as touch-screen web access and as simple as paths painted on the floors – to make sure that employees and visitors alike can find their way through the massive, modern complex.

8. The LX Factory, Portugal

lx-factory-portugal-adaptive-reuse (Image: Aurora Arquitectos)

Built in 1864 in Lisbon, Portugal, the LX Factory was once a mill for the manufacture of fabrics. Today, though, it’s been re-imagined as a bookstore called Ler Devagar. Meaning, “Read Slowly”, the store retains a lot of its industrial look, now filled with shelves upon shelves of books. Along with the books, there’s also an art gallery in the upper levels of the space, and the massive industrial footprint means that it’s also the ideal location for events from concerts and performance artists to plays, art exhibitions and poetry readings.

lx-factory-portugal-adaptive-reuse-2 (Image: Aurora Arquitectos)

Part of the charm of repurposed buildings like this one is that they keep the industrial feel, with metal floors and open staircases. One of the problems that designers ran into when refitting the factory into a bookstore was the massive, massive printing press that had been left behind by previous tenants – so they simply worked it into the design.

Ler Devagar also has a place for lectures and author readings, as well as an industrial-themed coffee bar.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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