Adaptive reuse – From dereliction to attraction

The truly great monuments and buildings of our times were built aeons ago, with many surviving more or less unscathed through history. Not all human constructions and buildings can claim fame to eternity however; in fact most will suffer the same fate as their builders. Of late, a new process has enabled some edifices to find new life beyond their expiry date – in almost self-explanatory term, that process is known as adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse is the process aimed to change or transform decommissioned or disused buildings (or items more generally) into a new item with a different purpose, while keeping intact the entity’s distinct features (e.g., its atypical built form, visual characteristics or heritage character).

From industrial to visual gems, there are innovative examples, both locally and internationally, of such adaptive reuse of industrial buildings, which typically contain structures such as water towers, silos and industrial buildings that have been transformed into iconic features creating unique public realms in their own rights.

A number of industrial sites or buildings in Australia have undergone such adaptive redevelopments. The former wool mill in Geelong, in Victoria, is now home to the Little Creatures and White Rabbit Brewery and, a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The Grounds of Alexandria, located 6 km south of Sydney, is the site of a former industrial precinct which was previously the Four’N Twenty pie factory, and now includes a coffee roastery, cafés, and a sustainable garden feature. The Princes Wharf 1 in Hobart, which was constructed in the 1830’s to serve whale ships, is now a multi-purpose function and events venue. More visually, are the Coonalpyn and Brim grain silo murals in South Australia and Victoria. All of these examples are now genuine destinations used for purposes beyond their original designs.

Beyond the mere sense that adaptive reuse helps to pass on snippets of architectural DNA to future generations, the process provides a real pathway for a complete recycling of disused buildings into genuine functional and attractive premises, essentially from dereliction to true attraction.

To discuss your retail redevelopment opportunities or retail trends more generally, please contact James Turnbull, National Head of Retail on or 02 9221 5211.

About the Authors: 

Denis Chung 03 9600 0500

Denis is a Manager at MacroPlan Dimasi with over nine years experience in undertaking economic and market assessments related to retail development projects. Denis has built a solid expertise in market assessments for retail developments, including sales forecasting; supply and demand analysis; strategic reviews of shopping centres; economic impact assessments (EIA); and store network reviews. 

Megan Aulich 03 9600 0500

Megan joined MacroPlan Dimasi’s Melbourne team in November 2014. She had been working in the industry for 8 years and brings expertise in economic analysis, GIS, strategic planning and project management. Megan is a qualified town planner with a background in private and public sector planning consulting. She brings expertise in various aspects of spatial and economic analysis, research and consultation through her work with developers, local councils and state government.