Unwanted Places into Beautiful Spaces: 14 Creative Conversions

Dilapidated prisons, sewage plants, disused railroads and shoe factories. These are just a few of the abandoned and deteriorating places that were once eyesores in their respective communities – and have now been transformed for new uses. Stunning makeovers have given these 14 unwanted places new value as vertical farms, community centers, opera houses and art galleries.

Abandoned Food Factory to Zero-Energy Vertical Farm

(images via: plant chicago)

The Plant once housed a food factory, and now – living up to its name – this abandoned building in an industrial area of southeast Chicago is set to become the city’s first vertical farm. Not only will it be a zero-energy food-producing facility, it’ll also provide research and education space. Expected to be fully operational by 2016, The Plant is currently growing greens and mushrooms and will expand to include beer and kombucha brewing and even raising tilapia.

Dilapidated Prison to Civic Center

(images via: exit architects)

A 19th-century prison, which still boasts beautiful and durable brickwork, has been integrated into a stunning modern facility. The Palencia Civic Center features a cell-block-turned-library, and its original buildings have been augmented with bright and airy additions that bring in lots of daylight via cylindrical light wells.

Abandoned Grain Silo to Opera House

(images via: silo marseille)

A large historical grain silo in Marseille, France has been converted into an opera house by C + T Architects, opening in September 2011. The city of Marseille wanted to use an existing building rather than building a new one, and the silo had been abandoned for many years. Built in the mid-1920s, Arenc Silo has been extensively renovated to transform a hollow area in the center into a large theater space, but retains its historical charm.

Bastion to Green-Roofed Public Center

(images via: archaeus)

Historical buildings and green roofs are an incredibly charming combination, and Bastion Theresia Timisoara is one of the best examples. Architecture studio ARCHAEUS transformed the 18th-century fortress, which had sat vacant in the city center for decades, into a park and community center. The architects even used materials and methods that will make it easy to rehabilitate the space decades into the future when it needs another facelift. The facility now offers a range of public uses including classroom and event spaces and lots of bicycle-friendly paths.

Gas Station to Youth & Senior Activity Center

(images via: fabg)

Gas stations tend to be thought of as disposable architecture, not worthy of saving and reusing – except, of course, when they were designed by Mies van der Rohe, like this one on Nun’s Island outside Montreal. This 1966 modernist gas station was transformed by FABG architects into an energy-efficient youth and senior center.

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