5 Great Examples of how Adaptive Reuse can preserve your States Historic Buildings

4 13, 2017

The re-purposing of heritage buildings, can be essential in preserving them and ensuring they stay relevant and usable in today’s world.  Most States have policies and regulations in place to manage the adaption of these heritage sites to safeguard the historical significance of the site. This article looks at the some great examples of adaptive reuse in Australia, the benefits that arise from adaptive reuse, the role policy plays and how smart systems can ensure the effective management of a states heritage sites.

What is Adaptive Reuse?

Adaptive reuse in the context of heritage buildings is described as the process of taking a previously disused building and repurposing it to be used for another function other than what it was originally built for.  Ideally the adaptive reuse of a historic building should have a minimal impact on the heritage significance of the building and its surroundings. The best cases of adaptive reuse usually respect and retain a building’s historic aspects while providing a space that can offer value for the future.

Five great examples of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings in Australia

1. Pump House Point: A three storey building originally constructed in the 1940s to house pump turbines, sits on Lake St Clair in Tasmania. The pump house has been successfully adapted and refurbished to be a unique wilderness retreat, which is now a popular tourist attraction for the area.

Pumphouse point 

2. Surry Hills Apartment: Formerly a tea factory in the 1920s and more recently an advertising agency, the project was to breathe new life into the 300-square-metre space as a private residence that spans two levels. The adaptation resulted in a very modern and sleek apartment which very much preserves the buildings unique history and character.

surry hills

3. Melbourne Fire Station: The Richmond Fire Station Horse Stables in Melbourne, Australia have been transformed into a stunning, modern home. The red brick single-story building has been preserved as the core with an addition of a three-story angular component that rises up to capture daylight and views while providing a contemporary 3 bedroom home while still preserving the unique character and history of the site.


4. Camperdown Childcare: This project saw a former industrial warehouse building, located in the inner west of Sydney, repurposed as a new 80-place childcare centre. This is a great example of how innovative thinking, can turn an unused building into a practical and modern facility.


5. Gantry Multi-housing Complex: A series of refurbished saw-tooth gable ends and a solid masonry facade have been cleverly adapted to house a multiple-housing complex in Camperdown, NSW. By transforming, rather than redeveloping the disused industrial warehouse, the architects were able to reduce the quantity of new materials required to realise the project and also the quantity of demolished materials that needed removing from the site.


What are some of the benefits?

There are an array of benefits, environmentally, socially and economically for the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, such as:

  • Preserves and protects the character of communities
  • Connects us with our past and heritage
  • Bypasses the wasteful process and environmental impact that arises from demolishing heritage buildings
  • Encourages more buildings to be preserved, protecting buildings which previously may have been forgotten, left to go to ruin or even rendered unrecognisable through redevelopment
  • Requires the use of less resources such as raw materials and energy
  • Often provides the community with new housing and commercial property opportunities
  • Economically, it is often cheaper than a complete new build

Role of Policy

Most local governments have specific policies and procedures in place to ensure their historical buildings are protected and preserved for future generations. Each site that is deemed to be of historical significance needs to be documented and managed to guarantee historic integrity is left intact during in redevelopment projects. This type of supervision requires a detailed level of record keeping, database and registry management. The success of implementing these policies and procedures can be greatly affected by the ease of compliance for both owners of these buildings and the government departments tasked with managing them.

A heritage register is a common tool used to monitor and manage historical buildings and sites. Any building or site deemed to be of historical significance has to belong to this registry and any information regarding the historical significance of this property is kept within this archive. It is important that these registries are easily accessible and manageable, both internally and externally. Today, user friendly online solutions are sought to ensure compliance to the policy is made as easy as possible.

Queensland’s Living Heritage Information System

The State of Queensland is a good example of a region that has a well-defined strategy in place to protect their heritage places of both State and local significance. They appreciate how these sites contribute to their sense of place, shapes their identity and helps define what it means to be a Queenslander.

FINNZ has partnered with Queensland’s Department of Heritage & Environmental Protection (EHP) to develop a new all-in-one Heritage database and register called the Living Heritage Information System (LHIS). LHIS improves access to information about Queensland’s Heritage places whilst creating an improved operating environment for heritage administrators.

Click here to download a copy of our case study to read about how FINNZ was able to offer Queensland an innovative solution that would meet all of their outlined objectives while improving their internal efficiencies.

Download the case study

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