We’ve all been in a beautifully designed, built, and decorated building. Maybe it was a lobby of a hotel or the reception area of a large office tower. These spaces are purpose built. From design to implementation a goal is established and worked towards. By a large margin these are the types of spaces we experience, but there are alternatives. Transformative spaces are those that, as the name might suggest, transform the use of a space from one purpose to another. Think of shipping crates transformed into small bars, or industrial hangers turned into interactive art spaces.
A great example of a transformative space is Melbourne’s Section 8. Section 8 exists in an alleyway car park in the middle of Melbourne’s central business district. There was no opportunity to build anything in the abandoned lot, so Section 8 repurposed one shipping crate to serve as their bar, another to serve as their small kitchen, and littered the left over space with wooden palettes serving as makeshift seating. Transformative spaces take advantage of the unexpected. They tap into a do-it-yourself attitude, bringing creativity and a sense of discovery to otherwise drab and underused spaces.
Not all transformative spaces are commercial properties either. Take for example this home in the French Riviera. Originally designed as a water cleaning station it has since been converted into a home. One of the advantages offered by transformative spaces is the unique opportunity to utilize features already present in the space. Nobody, or almost nobody, would go to the trouble of installing antique water cleaning pipes and machinery from 1910 in their home. Luckily, in this case they came pre-installed. They give the space a completely unique and authentic design aesthetic. The old steel and patina copper meets modern sleep design features in this excellent example of how a large space can be converted into a stunning example of transformative spaces.
Another great example is the Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. The brewery is housed within bays 1-14 of the John Street Roundhouse. Initially serving as a repair facility for the Canadian Pacific Railway as early as 1929 the building has undergone a number of changes but many of the original features remain. The large rotating platform used to direct trains into the bays is still out front, and inside the brewing equipment winds its way around the original structures high ceilings and wide open rooms.
Transformative spaces reveal themselves slowly. They are something you stumble upon and learn more about as you experience them. History is hidden in the walls. They make you think about how to better utilize space of your own, question whether that small space in the corner of your garage is actually useless.