Adaptive reuse refers to the process of reusing an old building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for.

Re:CONSTRUCTION specialise in adaptive reuse with a focus on converting non-residential buildings into high quality warehouse style apartments and townhouses.

Adaptive reuse has a number of benefits which include:

  • Recycling an existing building.
  • Preserving our heritage and streetscape.
  • Reducing of urban sprawl.
Recycling an existing building
Picture of old structure at Curzon st and what we re-used.

Stair tread and timber lining was re-used throughout Curzon St.

Reuse of buildings is the ultimate in recycling. By reusing an existing structure within a site, the energy required to create these spaces is lessened, as is the material waste that comes from destroying old sites and rebuilding using new materials. Re:CONSTRUCTION are on the same page as architect, Carl Elefante, who coined the wonderful phrase, “the greenest building is one that is already built”.

One of the main environmental benefits of reusing buildings is the retention of the original buildings “embodied energy”. The CSIRO defines the embodied energy as the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of the building, from the acquisition of the natural resources to product delivery, including mining, manufacturing of materials and equipment, transport and administrative functions. Embodied energy refers to the energy and resources already expended to construct an existing building. By reusing buildings, the embodied energy is retained, making the project much more environmentally sustainable than entirely new construction.

Picture of original floorboards prior to our Re:CONSTRUCTION

Original foorboards were re-used throughout this project.

The CSIRO Department of Materials Science and Engineering paper on Embodied Energy published in July 2008 recognizes that “The energy embodied in existing building stock in Australia is equivalent to ten years of the total energy consumption for the entire nation.” This CSIRO publication studies embodied energy and provides an understanding of how much and where energy is used in the construction of buildings, and the cost benefits of recycling.

In 2001, new building accounted for about 40% of annual energy and raw material consumption, 25% of wood harvested, 16% of fresh water supplies, 44% of landfill, 45% of carbon dioxide production and up to half the total greenhouse has emissions from industrialised countries.

Re:CONSTRUCTION believe that the re-use of existing buildings has the potential to be of the highest forms of sustainable design if done correctly.

However, the various assessment tools are yet to adequately address the energy and financial savings that come from re-using existing historic materials and structures. Current sustainable-design measuring criteria in Australia substantially under-estimate the importance of embodied energy in measuring energy efficiency and have also under estimated the great efficiency of robust existing buildings. This discrepancy undermines the credibility of the rating system as applied to the largest portion of the built environment: existing buildings.

We retained original brick walls on all sides and internally.

A radical change in attitude towards projects dealing with existing buildings is required in Australia.

Demolition and equivalent new construction, no matter how energy efficient, typically requires decades to equal the energy savings of rehabilitating an existing building. As individuals and institutions strive for greener buildings, our industry must acknowledge that adaptive reuse of buildings is the ultimate in recycling.

There are few more wasteful processes than tearing down an existing building and replacing it with something entirely new. Re:CONSTRUCTION’s goal is to avoid this and in addition to sustainability improvements, also preserve our heritage and streetscape.

Preserving our heritage and streetscape
Picture of pre-conversion Curzon st frontage

For Curzon st, we retained the ‘distressed’ look by keeping the original paint from the 1800s to enhance the character of the building.

Historic buildings give us a glimpse of our past and lend character to our communities as well as serving practical purposes now. Our objective is to respect and retain the buildings heritage significance and add a contemporary layer that provides value for the future. We achieve this through the marriage of existing heritage structure and cutting edge architectural design.

  • We do not purse “facadism” – that is gutting the buildings interior and only retaining its façade.
  • We require new work to be recognised as contemporary, rather than trying to imitate the original historic style of the building
Reducing urban sprawl

Re:CONSTRUCTION specialise in converting old mixed use buildings into high quality medium density warehouse style apartments and townhouses. We believe that medium density adaptive re-use conversions provide a sustainable and historically sensitive approach to inner city urban planning. In our own little way, we like to think that we’re helping to create an alternative to high density apartment living or outer suburbs urban sprawl.

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