An industrial transformation

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:03

There are many buildings around the world that are unused and left to slowly decay as the world moves on around them. This is a tragedy for the planet as slowly decomposing materials pollute the area around these structures and more resources are depleted to build newer buildings. Instead of letting them sit there, sometimes people transform them from relics of the past to modern and sustainable buildings to be used for the future.

An old building can be fitted with radiant heaters and solar panels to move it light years ahead of the technology built into it at the time of construction, reducing its negative impact on the environment around it with energy efficient floor heating and other innovations. Structures of any size can be harnessed for these eco-friendly means. In Vienna, a group of four massive cylindrical towers reminiscent of the industrial age have been converted into something for the betterment of the community.

The Gasometers

Originally built in 1896, the Gasometers in Vienna were made to store the supply of coal gas needed to light the streets of the city, according to Inhabitat. After almost 100 years of service, the coal plant was retired when the transfer to natural gas was made, rendering the four 230-foot tall and 197-foot wide towers obsolete. They were quickly established as buildings of historical significance due to their unique design, but were left relatively unused for years. It was the scene for raves and movies, but not much else in between.

All that changed in 1992 when the city raised a challenge for ideas of what could be done with the Gasometers. A handful of architects decided to strip the interior of the former gas storage and leave the brick outer shell before transforming the four towers into their own little villages. According to Vienna Unwrapped, the structures now contain 615 apartments inside as well as a hall for events that can fit 3,500 people. The towers are divided into three levels with housing at the top, offices in the middle and on the ground floor lies restaurants, a shopping mall, schools and other facilities. The four buildings are now connected with a sky bridge and are also attached to a movie theater across the street.

The Gasometers are now akin to their own small towns with everyone living together in a close community. An online forum allows residents to discuss all kinds of problems, parties, job openings and other things that pertain to them. The source stated that 90 percent of the residents living there today have been there since the complex first opened. Though all four buildings appear similar on the outside, the inside designs are quite different from one another.

Something new out of the old

The four Gasometers in Vienna are a perfect example of taking something that could have been detrimental to the environment around it and converting it into something hundreds of people can use. What the Gasometers once stood for was a way of power that has since been proven antiquated. With technological innovations, we have the power to change the way we affect the world. Instead of polluting the community, these buildings have created a new one.

There are many other opportunities out there where designers and architects can flex their imaginations and create a miracle. Every year, builders add more tools to their arsenal that can transform the waste of old into a sustainable future. They can turn storage containers, silos and even cars into top-notch modern houses that are more positive on the world than their predecessors ever could have been.