Rundown water towers, forgotten farmhouses, and decaying churches are like molding clay for these architects and designers. A church becomes an apartment, a water tower becomes a family’s dream house, and an airplane hangar turns into an island resort. You and I may not have that vision when we look at one of these old buildings, but that’s the imaginative genius behind the challenging task of architectural conversion.
Water Tower to Industrial Residence
The team from Zecc Architecten converted this water tower in the Netherlands into a residence fit for a family. Made of concrete, glass, and steel, this eye-opening structure is divided into two parts to incorporate functional living areas. Eight rooms are stacked within cylinder tower, and a spiral stairway cuts right through the center. The top level houses the parents’ bedroom, study, and rooftop sauna while the bottom has the standard kitchen, living room, and children’s bedrooms. The echoes from yelling in this steel tower must be fantastic for the kids. This tower once delivered water but now delivers vertical living.
Photo source: Zecc Architecten
From Chapel House to Trendy Apartment
Zecc Architecten also restored a hundred-year-old chapel located in Utrecht, Netherlands into a spacious, trendy residence. The 2,700 square foot home has all the standard living spaces, including a living room, kitchen, study, etc. But the cantilever stairway that leads up to the organ loft is truly original. Vibrant stain glass windows compliment the all white interior, and when the sun hits them at the right angle, gorgeous reflections shine onto the floor. It might be tough to get intimate with the surrounding religious undertones, but the awkward duality of trendy design and religion definitely gives this conversion character.
Photo source: Zecc Architecten
Massive Church Converted to Modern Bookstore
The Dutch architects Merkx+Girod took on the challenge of converting an 800-year-old Dominican church into a commercial store to sell books. The architects utilized the space within the church by creating multi-story steel bookshelves so as not to shadow the character and preservation of the church. Guests climb the stairs from story to story, taking them closer to the ceilings to browse books, as well as gaze at the religious murals along the walls. On the ground floor where pews once laid, are book displays and magazine stands as well as a café with a cross-shaped reading table in the center—how fitting. Booklovers come to Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore to worship books; architects come to worship the genius design.
Photo source: Merkx+Girod
Barnyard Becomes Luxe Home
Architect Rita Huys and the company Buro2 converted an industrial barn once used to store agricultural items into a luxurious and modern home with a touch of rustic. The rectangular-shaped building in Central Flanders, Belgium has ceiling to floor windows on the short ends, bringing light into the living, dining, library, and mezzanine areas. The wide window views compliment the residence by bringing the surrounding landscapes of rolling hills and countryside into the interior design of the home. Hard to believe that sheep were once shaved in the same spot where residents probably drink wine and take in the view. The dense shutters of the barn can be opened as well, making this a house for those who appreciate nature. Says Huys, “The house’s best room is, in a way, the outdoors.”
Photo source: Buro2
Airship Hangar Converted to Indoor Tropical Resort
The world’s largest freestanding hall is in Eastern Germany, and is now a resort called Tropical Islands. A deserted former zeppelin hangar and German military airport, a Malaysian entrepreneur purchased the dome and created an entire Tropical Island resort—all within the hangar. The 710,000 square foot space is filled with all things tropical and resort—a Balinese lagoon, a rainforest, white sand beaches, wellness spas, camping sites, and Germany’s largest waterslide. There’s even enough space to take an air balloon ride. The dome is so big that technically it could fit the Statue of Liberty in it standing up, and the Eiffel Tower lying on its side. With the latest technology, Tropical Islands is able to retain an ideal tropical climate for daytime and night. Although the experience might be a little Truman Show-ish, at least winter-weary Europeans have the option of walking into a man-made paradise.
Photo source: wassmer on flickr (cc)
Photo source: Tropical Islands.
Holy conversions, military resorts, and barnyard transformations—I can’t wait to see what future architects come up with.