Shop in a Swimming Pool: Neglected Space Turned into a Store

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

swimming pool store aoyama 1

Until recently, this indoor swimming pool on the vacant ground floor of a 1970s apartment building in Tokyo was just an empty space, dry and disused for years. Now it’s a pop-up shop by Nobuo Araki known as ‘The Pool Aoyama‘ hawking clothing, accessories and swim-themed promotional items. The designers left the pool almost entirely intact, installing a glass floor that mimics the look of water.

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The shell of the abandoned pool and its steel ladder have become key elements of the final design, with the pool walls defining the space of the shop. Wooden stairs on either side of the pool meet to create a sort of bridge across the glass. White shelving units are mounted along the edges to display goods, and U-shaped stainless steel clothing racks hanging from the ceiling echo the look of pool hand rails.

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The designers were drawn to the soft light, charm and quirkiness of the space, and the shallow depth of the pool lends itself well for adaptation into a showroom. A newly installed glass ceiling floods the room with natural light, and the bathrooms were turned into fitting rooms.

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Entering the shop feels a bit like gaining access to a secret underground space that few are savvy to, as the door is simply marked with an inconspicuous sign reading ‘The Pool.’


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A Victorian-era underground restroom that had been abandoned since the 1960s has been renovated into a restaurant, with cafe seating in the former urinals. Click Here to Read More »»


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Capital Idea: Bridge to Elevated Park for Washington D.C.

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Washington DC Elevated Park

A freeway bridge linking historically divided sides of Washington, D.C. on either side of the Anacostia River is set to become a vibrant, High-Line-style elevated park. OMA + OLIN have been announced as the winners of a competition to design the new civic space, which will be packed full of fun attractions including performance spaces, play areas and an environmental education center.

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The 11th Street Bridge Park will reuse existing piers from the bridge that once connected Wards 6, 7 and 8 on either side of the river before it was replaced. Uniting these diverse communities in an unprecedented way, the bridge will offer recreational opportunities ranging from canoe and kayak launches to a hammock grove. There’s even a series of nets that allows people to hover over the water.

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Paying tribute to a motif found throughout the city, the design consists of a sloping X-shape with an eclipsed cafe, an environmental center and a central plaza at its center. Atop each building is a rooftop garden filled with public art, amphitheaters, playground equipment and lots of trees.

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The design encourages interaction between two very different sides of the city, one wealthy and the other historically poor, drawing them together to enjoy nature, culture and physical activity. The project incorporates a wide variety of suggestions from the community, creating a space that’s tailored to their wants and preferences.


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Containertecture: Shipping Crate-Based Buildings by LOT-EK

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

LOT-EK C-Home 1

Early explorers in the realm of prefab shipping container-based architecture, design studio LOT-EK stacks these steel crates to create everything from compact homes to massive retail complexes. Making aesthetics and functionality equally important, LOT-EK gives the containers a visual dynamism while keeping its structures economical, portable and easy to assemble.

Sanlitun South
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Bright red shipping containers burst out of the facade of the Sanitlun South retail complex in Beijing, “organized like a medieval village with a dense fabric of narrow alleys, low-rise buildings, elevated walkways and bridges connection all levels.” Eight-foot-wide shipping containers inserted randomly throughout the structure determine the rhythm of the whole, functioning as canopies over the retail store entrances on the exterior and functioning as small lobbies for stores on the inside.

Whitney Studio
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Six stacked steel shipping containers form a dense, minimalist cube functioning as an ultra-modern art studio space for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The 700-square-foot, 2-story space features a vivid yellow diagonal slice running up to the roof to create a skylight.

PUMA City Shipping Container Store
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Transported from Spain to Stockholm to Boston, PUMA’s pop-up store had to be highly portable and easy to assemble and disassemble. LOT-EK retrofitted 24 shipping containers to create a retail and event building that could go from one international port to the next, but still feel fresh and dynamic and highly functional. The four-story space features double-height ceilings, a downstairs retail space, upstairs offices and storage, and a bar and open terrace on the top. 40-foot-long shipping containers along the outside join and secure the whole structure both horizontally and vertically.

APAP OpenSchool
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The APAP2010 OpenSchool building serves as a recreational space for a public art program at an art school in South Korea, and also as a testing ground for ‘radical container assemblies with high sculptural potential.’ 8 containers are cut along a 45-degree angle and assembled in what LOT-EK describes as “a fishbone pattern generating a large arrow-like volume lifted three meters over the landscape.” The bent container offers access from the pedestrian path outside to the upper levels of the building.

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C-Home is a series of pre-fabricated homes upcycling shipping containers to provide anywhere from 300 to 1300 square feet of living space. Since they’re made of recycled materials – and shipping containers are composed of strong Cor-ten steel – they’re both affordable and durable. Folding cut-outs in the facade let in light and provide a terrace when open.

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Holy Beer: 12 Pubs Converted from Churches, Urinals & More

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Converted Pubs Main

If knocking pack a pint in a subterranean Victorian urinal doesn’t sound like a good time to you, read on. Extensive renovations have transformed the most unlikely of settings into quirky and often beautiful places to have a drink, from dumpsters and sheds to historic bank vaults and gothic churches.

The Temple: Victorian Urinal Pub
Converted Pub Victorian Urinal

Once dark, dingy and far from sanitary, a subterranean Victorian urinal is now a popular pub in Manchester, UK. One of the city’s smallest bars, the Temple nevertheless offers a vast array of foreign bottled beers. Meanwhile, in London, a urinal from the same era has now become an eatery after a $150,000 renovation.

Oran Mor Church Pub
Converted Pubs Oran Mor Church

Europe is brimming with former places of worship that have since been converted into private residences, hotels and more due to an overabundance of churches that just don’t draw the same crowds that they used to. The Oran Mor in Glasgow, Scotland is just one (particularly stunning) example, which has become one of the nation’s hottest nightspots after a major renovation that includes trippy murals painted all over the ceilings.

Woodhenge Shed Pub
Converted Pubs Shed

It’s not hard to see why John Plumridge’s handmade backyard structure won Shed of the Year in 2012. After all, not many sheds are lined with hundreds of bottles of ale. Plumridge spent 4 years converting his Woodhenge Pub Shed into “a great venue for family and friends to party in.”

Dumpster Bar
Converted Pubs Dumpster

Urban waste and a dumpster became a tiny, charming bar as part of the Foundation Projects by designers Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zweiten. This adaptive reuse project shapes found materials into little dumpster houses that have practical purposes throughout the cities in which they’re built.

1926 Bank Vault, Chicago
Converted Pubs Bank Vault

A beautiful 1926 bank vault in Chicago with many of its historic features still intact – including that incredible door – is now known as The Bedford, a local kitchen and bar serving food and cocktails in a signature mix of German and Southern cuisine.

Hop On Inn: Double Decker Bus Pub
Converted Pubs Double Decker

Named for its hop-on, hop-off rear platform, the Hop On Inn is a renovated 1966 London double-decker bus that now hosts a full bar downstairs and a lounge area upstairs complete with a stage and removable roof cover for live music. The bus, which once served Piccadilly Circus, is among the last classic Routemasters that were taken out of service in 2005.

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Religious Conversions: 15 Houses of Worship Turned Secular

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Converted Churches Secular Main

Transforming these fifteen churches, monasteries and synagogues into homes, libraries and nightclubs hasn’t put a damper on their sense of reverence and grandeur. Former houses of worship all over the world retain all of their awe-inspiring original architectural elements like vaulted ceilings, arches, altars and stained glass windows while adjusting to needs that are more mundane.

13th Century Church to Modern Library, Maastricht, Holland

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Converted Church Library 2

A thirteenth-century Dominican church in Maastricht, Holland has been transformed into Selexyz Dominicanen, a massive bookstore. The 1,200-square-meter church will all of its elegant arches and vaults has been filled with a modern three-story volume containing row after row of books, to take advantage of the full height of the structure.

St. Jakobus Church to Home by Zecc Architects, The Netherlands

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A modest, narrow chapel in The Netherlands that had fallen into disuse is now a private home. Like many other churches in the area, St. Jakobus was no longer needed for its intended purpose, so it was used as an antique store and even a meeting place for small concerts over the years. Then Zecc Architects came in, removed part of the mezzanine floor, painted nearly every surface stark white and inserted modular volume that provides enclosed rooms and a loft without compromising the grand feel of the space.

Gothic Monastery to Hotel, Maastricht, Holland

Converted Church Hotel

Travelers can take a different sort of comfort in a 15th century monastery in Maastricht than that for which it was originally built. The Crutched Friars is now the 60-room Kruisheren Hotel. The monastery houses the guest rooms, while the Gothic church contains the reception area, conference rooms, a library, a boutique and a coffee bar.

Ordinary Church Concealing Modern Home, Sydney, Australia

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What appears to be an ordinary church in Sydney, Australia is actually a modern home. You wouldn’t guess from the outside that just within those walls is a light-filled living space with an indoor swimming pool, glazed walls and a marble commercial kitchen.

Anglican Church to Spirito Martini Bar, Brussels, Belgium

Converted CHurch Spirito Martini Bar

The Spirito-Martini is a luxurious hotspot in Brussels with three bars, five different lounges and a private room, all set within a former Anglican church. All of the major architectural elements of the church have been retained, including extravagant chandeliers. The designers outfitted the club in Victorian-style furniture, damask and dark wood.

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Secret Museum Hidden in an Abandoned Freight Elevator

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Abandoned Freight Car Museum 1

Unlike all of New York City’s flashy and well-known museums, this particular exhibition space is grungy, quirky and easy to miss. Located in an abandoned freight elevator on the edge of the Tribeca neighborhood in Manhattan, Museum measures just 80 square feet and is covered by a pair of unmarked, heavy iron doors when it’s closed. It contains collections of objects just as unconventional as the space itself.

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Abandoned Freight Car Museum 3

As stark and unfussy as its name, Museum is intentionally hard to find. It’s only open to visitors on the weekend, but you can peer through a series of viewing windows to get a look at the contents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Photographer Garrett Ziegler captured these images of the space and its humorous, oddball display pieces.

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The Museum exhibits consist of urban curiosities, found objects and funny vintage items in addition to art pieces. Want to know more about a particular piece? You can call a toll-free hotline (888-763-8839) and enter the item’s identification number (the exhibits change frequently, and are currently different than those pictured).

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“Life exists all around us, and the proof of our existence is both beautiful and absurd. Our footprint, which is often overlooked, dismissed, or ignored, is intriguing, and always worth exploring.”

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War and Peace: 15 Repurposed Military Structures

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Repurposed Military Architecture Main

Once they were no longer needed as bunkers, flak towers, forts, airfields and barracks, these military structures sat empty and abandoned, a stark reminder of wars past and those that may occur in the future. But these structures were built to last, and now they serve surprising purposes – like climbing walls, aquariums, hotels, apartment buildings and night clubs.

Flak Towers in Germany – Climbing Walls

Repurposed Military Architecture Climbing Towers

Flak towers constructed in Germany and Austria on Adolf Hitler’s orders during World War II have been reclaimed as climbing walls, music schools, shops, nightclubs and even an aquarium. These extremely strong structures were built to counter airborne Allied forces, with concrete walls three meters thick. Their size and durability made them difficult to destroy after the war, and many stood empty and abandoned for decades. Climbing equipment enables visitors to scale the 47-meter-tall (154-foot) Haus des Meeres in Vienna; it was once crowned with a Wurzburg radar dome, and now contains thousands of sea creatures, including a 300,000-liter shark tank.

Airship Hangar – Water Park

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The world’s largest freestanding building is an airship hangar built at an abandoned Soviet military base just south of Berlin. Measuring 1,181 feet long and 688 feet wide, the structure was created for the delivery of massive industrial machinery like wind turbines, but a Malaysian firm has converted it into something much more fun: a water park. Tropical Islands Resort contains a 3,000-square-yard swimming pool, 600 feet of sandy beach and 50,000 trees in 600 varieties.

Russian Bunker – Night Club

Repurposed Military Architecture Bunker Night Club

The 75,000-square-foot Taganskaya Protected Command Point in Russia was in military use from the 1950s to 1986, when it was abandoned. But in the early 2000s, a company purchased the disused subterranean space and transformed it into a Cold War Museum called Bunker 42, which includes a restaurant and night club.

Torpedo Facility – Private Residence

Repurposed Military Architecture Torpedo House

A former Cold War torpedo facility in a London suburb, once used to test submarine technology, is now a stunning round home. The structure once boasted a 160-foot-diameter dome covering a 120-foot-long, 15-foot-deep pool where model torpedoes and submarines were rotated on a large arm up to 150 feet per second. The domed structure had to be removed due to contamination, but the home still features a 4-foot-thick blast wall.

19th Century Gasometer – Apartment Building

Repurposed Military Architecture Gasometer

A 19th-century gasometer that was also used as an air raid shelter during World War II is now a luxury apartment building. The Fichte-Bunker in Berlin held gas for the city’s street lamps, but when they were switched to electricity in the 1920s, it was no longer needed for this purpose. The walls were reinforced with up to three meters of concrete for its use as a shelter, and 30,000 people allegedly took refuge there on February 3rd, 1945 despite its capacity of 6,000. Once the war was over, it was used as a homeless shelter for decades, and then held emergency supplies for the Cold War. The structure now holds thirteen two-story luxury condos with large grassy upper-level terraces.

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Waste Not: 1890s Urinal Turned into a Sandwich Shop

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[ By Steph in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Attendant Urinal Restaurant 2

Sit at a counter embedded into a wall of urinals and enjoy a nice sandwich at Attendant, an eatery in London built in a former men’s bathroom. While it’s virtually unrecognizable after an extensive $150,000 renovation, it’s hard to imagine how the owners were able to look into the trash-strewn pit of a subterranean restroom and think about food.

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The Attendant restroom had been abandoned for more than fifty years before its two-year transformation. It now serves sandwiches, soup, breakfast, cakes and espresso drinks, with many ingredients plucked from the New Covent Garden Marketplace just down the street.

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Partners Peter Tomlinson and Ben Russell removed 12 layers of paint dating back over a century from the ornate wrought iron entrance and removed a wall that separated the urinals from the attendant’s space. The urinals were polished, a counter was added and a kitchen was built. Green seating matches the original Victorian floor tiles.

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Abandoned No More: New Lives for 13 Disused Spaces

[ By Steph in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

While many abandoned places are ultimately demolished (and sometimes temporarily serve as settings for unexpected art installations), some get a second chance at life with restoration projects that transform them for new purposes. These 13 abandoned places, including zoos, bath houses, military compounds, railways and factories, now serve as libraries, galleries, offices, arts centers and private homes.

Contemporary Library in a Turkish Bath House

(images via: archdaily)

A beautiful rounded wooden library reminiscent of a seashell has been temporarily installed inside a once-abandoned Turkish bathhouse in Bulgaria. the ICONITemporary Library by Studio 8 1/2 contains nothing but books about contemporary art, with comfortable places to lounge, flip through the pages and gaze at the 16th century architecture.

Abandoned Walmart Turned America’s Largest Library

(images via: mcallenlibrary.net)

Empty retail stores can be quite an eyesore, sitting vacant for months or even years. One such building has been completely transformed from a vacant Walmart in McAllen, Texas, to America’s largest library. Measuring 124,500 square feet, the single-floor library was painted in bright colors and renovated to include glass-enclosed spaces.

Zoo Turned Graffiti Gallery

(images via: street art museum)

An old zoo in Torino, Italy has become the Street Art Museum, with the former animal enclosures painted with often-surreal scenes. It’s part of the Border Land Project, an urban regeneration initiative that helps utilize and raise awareness about neglected spaces.

Gentlemen’s Club Turned Stylish Home

(images via: yatzer)

The Harmony Club was built in 1909, and operated as a social club for the Jewish community in Selma, Alabama, including a restaurant, a ballroom and an exclusive men’s lounge. It was turned into headquarters for the Elks Club in the 1930s, and boarded up in the ’60s. Today, it’s a luxurious home that retains many of the historical details, making it truly one-of-a-kind. See more photos at Yatzer.

Stable to Family Home

(images via: enpundit)

Architecture firm Abaton took a crumbling, centuries-old stone barn in the Spanish province of Caceres and rehabilitated it into a beautiful family home, with the haylofts becoming bedrooms. The large doors – two stories tall, in one case – were glassed in to create massive windows.

Catholic Chapel to Modern Home

(images via:  zecc architects)

An abandoned Catholic church is now a spacious, modern residence in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Zecc Architects carefully preserved the dramatic aspects of the church’s architecture with soaring ceilings, stained glass windows and even a dining table made from the preserved pews.

Taiwanese Military Barracks to Rainbow Village

(images via: riowang)

The local council in Taichung, Taiwan had decided to demolish the remains of an abandoned 1940s military encampment on the outskirts of its suburban community, but an elderly resident named Huang Yunfu had another idea. He covered the entire site in colorful pairings, turning it into an outdoor gallery. It’s now called ‘Rainbow Village.’

Beret Factory to Multimedia Center

(images via: inhabitat)

Would you guess that this incredibly modern-looking facility was once an abandoned beret factory? A riverside site that was recently little more than an industrial wasteland on the edge of the Pyrenees mountains in France is now a two-story multimedia center built on the original stone foundation with skylights and green terraces.

Garage to Madrid Hub Offices

(images via: fast co design)

Madrid architects Churtichaga + Quadra + Salcedo (CH +QS) turned an abandoned garage in the center of the city into a timeshare office, preserving the industrial character of the place while adding comfortable semi-private nooks, including an informal living room made of wood crates.

Silo to Climbing Gym

(images via: inhabitat)

After losing a competition to transform an abandoned sewage treatment silo in Amsterdam into a climbing gym, NL Architects may get a second chance. Developers in the area think that a third abandoned silo could be ideal for the project. The ‘Siloo O’ concept would create a world-class climbing and mountaineering facility that could become a major tourist attraction for climbers around the world.

Warehouse to Advertising Firm Headquarters

(images via: wk.com)

Ad firm Wieden + Kennedy turned an old warehouse in Portland, Oregon into its new world headquarters, holding several hundred employees. Portland architecture firm Allied Works gave the building a new concrete interior and new stories, preserving some of the original timber.

Steel Factory to Arts Center

(images via: artsquest.org)

Once the largest steel-producing facility in America, the old Bethlehem Steel building in Pennsylvania closed its doors in 1995 and remained abandoned for more than a decade. Spillman Farmer Architects converted the 68,000-square-foot space into the ArtsQuest Center, an art campus where the industrial aspects of the building are accented by the warmth of native Pennsylvania ash wood.

Railroad to Recreational Promenade

(images via: archdaily)

A retired railway between the towns of Albisola Superiore and Celle Ligure on the coast of Italy left a large stretch of the shoreline unused. 3S Studio and Voarino Cairo Voarino transformed the old promenade into a walking path using low-impact materials for a small environmental footprint.


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Rebuilding Infrastructure: Viaduct turned Holiday Home

[ By Steph in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Construction on the highway from Salerno to Reggio Calabria in Southern Italy began int he 1960s – and it’s still not finished. A stretch that has been abandoned for decades includes a viaduct with incredible wasted views of the mountainous countryside and the sea. The winners of a design competition to repurpose that viaduct have transformed it into a stunning vertical village of vacation homes.

French firms OFF Architecture, PR Architect and Samuel Nageotte took first place in the Solar Park South international design competition with ‘Solar Highway’, a concept that uses the massive pylons of the bridge as the basis of a sort of high-rise vacation complex in reverse – running from the horizontal surface of the bridge down to ground level.

The project was designed to use a low quantity of construction materials, encasing the existing support system using a ‘pile and deck’ technique to stack residential and commercial spaces on top of each other without disturbing the site. The vacation homes are aimed at Northern European snowbirds looking to enjoy Southern Italy’s warm, sunny weather in the winter.

The upper part of the bridge will become a pedestrian promenade, with lower decks offering roadways into neighboring towns – a feature that local residents, who have long been cut off by the delays on the highway, will no doubt appreciate. In between the houses, restaurants and shops will be recreational spaces like golfing greens. In addition, as Inhabitat points out, nearby Mt. Etna could provide the whole complex with geothermal power.


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