Adaptive Reuse: Converting Public Spaces into Homes

July 28, 2023



Shan Arcega

Adaptive reuse is more than a preservation movement. In the current time when the climate crisis is a problem humanity must prioritize, repurposing old structures is a solution that saves on resources, promotes sustainability, and reinvigorates a community’s culture. Communities convert heritage houses into commercial buildings. Old Spanish-style homes turned into souvenir shops or hotels.

But what about turning old commercial spaces into a home? It’s been seen in some movies before. In Princess Diaries, there’s the refurbished firehouse Mia Thermopolis and her mom occupy in San Francisco. In Ocean’s Eight, the modern church converted into Lou’s home where they plan the grand heist.

Related read: Oboza Heritage House in Davao finds new life as a restaurant

What are the perks of turning an old public space into a residential space?

Lesser Costs. Though building a completely new home is everyone’s dream, there’s nothing wrong with considering converting an old space into a home. Adaptive reuse is actually less expensive than new construction and could cost 15 to 20 percent less than usual.

Lesser building, smaller travel budget, lesser costs. Photo by Andre Taissin.

Gentrification would be lessened. When a structure is successfully repurposed, it simply gains a new identity and just sheds skin but without completely dissolving its history. This can help keep the soul and memories carved into the community.

Keeping an old public space and turning it into a home gives it an interesting story. Photo by Terrah Holly.

Better sustainability. Adaptive reuse tends to use lesser materials than new construction. Less heavy machinery would be needed and less energy is used. Renovating this existing property also preserves more land, removing the need to develop a new lot.

The Warehouse Hotel in Singapore is a great example of adaptive reuse.

Aside from abundant space, turning a public space into a residential space is a creative and resourceful way of contributing to building a more sustainable future. In another lense, a refurbished restaurant turned house certainly will make an interesting home.

Related read: Spice trade warehouse adapted into industrial luxe hotel

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