Author: Matteo Robiglio
Preface excerpt from the book RE-USA: 20 American Stories of Adaptive Reuse
Several tracks brought me to write this book.
The first one is biographical. A regular, well-educated student, fascinated by the irregular creativity of squatted places and the beauty of industrial icons, I grew up as an architect in during a time when my city – Torino, the powerhouse of Italian manufacturing – saw 100 million square feet of factories emptied of workers and production within a few years. The instinctive attraction for the opposite became a professional commitment to urban regeneration and architectural reuse projects and, eventually, daily living experience: these lines are written from my desk, in a former coffee factory in the core of industrial Torino, now home to my family.
This multi award winning 2.5ha post industrial waterfront park is located on a contaminated former lubricant production site on the Birchgrove Peninsula in the inner reaches of Sydney harbour. The site’s richly layered history included occupation by indigenous people, construction of the ’Menevia’ marine villa in the 1860’s, quarry use for ship ballast and finally petroleum distillation by Caltex from the 1920’s until 2002. As lead consultant, McGregor Coxall undertook project management, design development, construction documentation and administered the construction contract for the client. This project’s design is driven by a strong environmental agenda where recycled materials are used site wide. Wind turbine generators reflect a movement away from fossil fuels and an integrated stormwater management and recycle system ensures that all stormwater entering Sydney Harbour from the site has been cleaned and polished prior to its discharge.
The Zollhallen Plaza in Freiburg, Germany is a new, dynamic urban counterpart for the conservation-listed customs hall which was restored in 2009. The plaza has been transformed from a freight train terminal, and then a wasteland, into an integrated multifunctional social resource for the local neighbourhood.
The former home of Bethlehem Steel, site of the EPA’s largest brownfield conversion plan in the nation, required further consideration to improve soil pH levels and storm water runoff in preparation for its new mixed-use tenants. Its redesign honors our country’s industrial heritage through preservation and adaptive reuse and provides a healthy, appealing environment for visitors. Most importantly, it has catalyzed a stunning revival of the South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, region.
From a harbour area with free port status to a city with independent neighbourhoods, islets and canals. Nordhavn (The North Harbour) is currently being transformed into a new city district in Copenhagen by COBE, Sleth, Polyform and Rambøll.
The park site was in use for roughly a century by the Oerlikon Machine Works (MFO). In the course of industrialisation the entire grounds were at one time filled in with construction debris, sand from the foundry and ash, and the plot had thus suffered from pollution. Together with nearby Oerliker Park, an enormous wooded area is now arising, created by the contiguous tops and trunks of countless ash trees. MFO Park responds to this in its own way with the “Park House”, a large open hall and a trellis overgrown with hundreds of blooming, aromatic climbers.
Location: Wynyard Quarter, Auckland Waterfront , New Zealand
Date: 2008- 2011
Size: 9 acres
Photography: Simon Devitt, John Davis, Simone Bliss
Doubtless, the strongest addition to Auckland’s waterfront is the completion of Jellicoe Harbour, Jellicoe Street, Silo Park and North Wharf Promenade encouraging a rich dialogue between working waterfronts and public space. An overlay of waterfront activities, previously removed from the public gaze, is now central to the public realm experience and integrated as an attraction via fishing fleet premises, as well as wholesale and retail fish and seafood markets. Auckland’s Waterfront is the first catalytic project of this redevelopment, and the public spaces are centred on Jellicoe Harbour and Silo Park. These spaces promote an alternative design approach to the typical erasure of waterfront memory. Here, friction is encouraged; smelly fish are the attraction, rust, grit and patina are embraced, and derelict artefacts are reprogrammed.
Location: Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York
Expressing the innovative nature of this green research and manufacturing center and preserving the structure of the grand historic hangar that houses it is the concept behind the design of the New Lab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.