Various Crazy Converted Houses

Sometimes we get caught up thinking about all of the new wonderful structures that could be built, without realizing just how many opportunities there are to adaptively reuse architecture that is already built. Here are converted building projects that take old houses and other aged structures and transform them into new kinds inhabitable
Old Meets New: Radical Remodel & Exterior Home Addition

It can be challenging enough to build a modern home in a traditional context but remodeling a conventional house with a contemporary approach can be even more difficult though, done well, it can produce a potentially more dynamic and impressive combined construction than either a traditional or modern house design.

In this renovation-and-remodeling project, Maynard Architects integrated elements of the original structure in creative ways with the addition of more space and modern materials: exposed natural wood siding sits under black-painted steel railings and visible interior wood rafters are juxtaposed with modern wire mesh surfaces.

Through contrast, the division of the old and new design elements in this creative home are rendered evident from every angle both inside and out, with different rhythms of solid and void, a flat new roof next to the angled existing rooflines and concrete foundation in the addition to contrast with wood floors in the original structure.
Upcycling Old Grain Silos: Houses, Homes, Hotels & Inns

Grain silos are everywhere and as urbanization continues apace there are more and more of them that go unused. Like shipping container homes, these leftover structures offer a wealth of unused and open but sturdily supported interior space that can be adaptively reused in creative ways. Some people have turned grain silos into homes while other have figured out that a grain silo hotel is a marketable commodity.

Though the exterior is an almost comical combination of a conventional porch and a historical industrial grain silo, the inside accommodations at this grain silo inn are hotel or lodge quality all around, with white walls and soft wood colors throughout – a truly upcycled living space.

Even more industrious in scope is this collection of three silos that are joined by new construction and punctured by added openings to form a luxury converted bed-and-breakfast silo complex.

At the somewhat less luxurious end of the spectrum (though still impressively modified) is this DIY grain silo home by some industrious green-minded builders. Some used windows and doors, hay bales for insulation, a pair of solar power collectors and a few months later and this two-story abode was ready to be lived in.
Countryside Church Building Converted into Luxury Home

How would you like to have vaulted ceilings in every space, at the small cost of having a graveyard instead of a lawn? Amazingly this wonderful old stone church cost the owners less than the renovations needed to transform it into a contemporary home (now worth significantly more than the original price and conversion costs combined).

With the exception of a few subtle skylights one could pass by this restructured religious building in the English countryside and never realize that it was anything aside from a derelict place of worship.

What may be most amazing about this place is just how well the spaces seem adapted to their new uses, a combination of cozy and traditional fixtures and furniture seeming right at home in what was once considered a holy space.

Like any good home, a church of course comes equipped with all of the essential basics needed by a building – an entryway and halls for welcoming visitors as well as remote and secluded spaces that convert well to bedrooms. The boldest design choice was likely the decision to put the master bed in such a central and open location at the sacred apex of the main volume – stylish or sacrilegious?
DIY Used Cargo Homes & Shipping Container House Plans

Once upon a time, you had to buy passage on a freight ship headed out to sea in order to see a stack of containers piled high to the sky all around you. Nowadays more and more architects and builders are finding used free or for sale cargo containers at discount prices to construct all kinds of houses, homes and office structures. However, lest you think you need to go the route of hiring a professional, you should know that some do-it-yourself designers like Keith Dewey are making do with their own shipping container home plans.

His own home, for example is constructed out of eight used shipping containers stacked on a residential lot. On top of that he has come up with all kinds of engaging cargo home plans and designs that range from simply, sturdy and easy-to-construct to complex, conceptual, whimsical and nearly impossible to build.

The above sequence of shipping container housing structures sits somewhere in the middle. Built around standard sizes, these buildings use a combination of the container cores and conventional wood framing, metal shed roofs and other inexpensive and conventional building materials and construction approaches. While it would be by no means a free ride to a new home, these standard components combined with used containers would help bring down the costs considerably.

At the more conventional end of the container home design spectrum is this modern-style house that combines concrete, stone, glass, metal and a set of multicolored shipping containers at its core. While they bear little resemblance to their freight-bearing cousins of the sea, each container unit still stands out within the overall design.

What if you heard there was a new condo space for sale, but that you had to bring your own condo with you once you buy it? Talk about an extreme DIY project, this shipping container tower design is a great concept for futuristic portable and modular housing. Imagine being able to move by simply getting a list of prices, calling for a truck and shipping yourself and your home by land or sea to another tower of your choice.
Industrial Redesign: Factory Converted to Condo Complex

As children, many of us were fascinated by the odd materials, looming forms and complex structures of urban industrial buildings – all the more intrigued when we learned we were not allowed to explore them directly. This remarkable building conversion project captures the industrial heart of the original rag factory while integrating impressive sustainable innovations for contemporary condo living.

On top of the colorful and engaging aesthetics, there are an abundance of incredible eco-friendly innovations employed in this reconstruction project by Onion Flats in Philadelphia. Captured rainwater stored in underground tanks is routed to water rooftop gardens and wall-climbing vegetation. Photovoltaic panels add solar-collecting functionality and visual interest along the roof lines.

The resulting residential complex is an amazing synthesis of old and new, in terms of structure, space and sustainable technology. It reflects its origins as a hodge-podge factory complex but reflects contemporary spatial design approaches and contains forward-thinking green architectural strategies.
Radical Redesigns: Bridge-to-Home Building Conversions

Everyone claims they want a house on the water, but few get to experience that desired proximity quite so directly. Large and small, old and new, there are many amazing dwellings built on aged bridges or designed to be a bridge from the day they are constructed – in short, there are many people in the world who get to actually live on bridges.

The above Kraemerbrucke in Germany and Ponte Vecchio in Italy both have long and rich histories as bridges, inhabited and otherwise. The former was built and rebuilt after being destroyed by fire many times starting over 1,000 years ago, with its current built-out form dating back nearly 500 years. The latter site was used for bridges dating back to Roman times and has likewise been inhabited by shops and homes for centuries.

Some houses were bridges from the very beginning. The Ambleside Bridge House shown here is over 300 years old as a house and apple store. It has survived generations in its precarious position, straddling the waterway below, and is not held in trust and used as an information center for visitors.

Many modern homes are built as bridges as well to span waterways on their sites, often in rural areas. Homes by Amancio Williams, Michael Johnson and other modernists provide amazing views and a surreal floating experience to residents who in some cases are suspended dozens of feet high within their structures.

On a somewhat lighter (or darker) note, not everyone wants to have their home be a bridge – particularly this poor homeowner whose adaptive reuse project was anything but planned.
Green Conversion: Religious Space to Spacious Loft Condo

High ceilings, big windows and an open floor plan – something a synagogue and a stylish modern loft space fortunately have in common, making this immaculate interior conversion project by Manifold a perfect fit design between old and new architectural uses.

What were once spaces for worship remain places for reflection, but where windows were adorned with colored glass clear glazing now allows for amazing views out on the East Village from this elegant three-story home.

A synagogue until a few decades ago, the building was first divided into multiple living units before being reopened, reconnected and turned into a wonderful multi-story adaptive reuse residence in a beautiful building right in the heart of Manhattan.
Classic School House Converted into Contemporary Home

Reuse is not just about sustainability – it can a choice of necessity or even preference. The traditional masonry of this 18th Century American schoolhouse (remodeled by Faleide Architects) is surely the envy of many neighbors while the addition contrasts playfully with the original structure.

The original building was constructed near Denver in the late 1800s and, as this image illustrates, was once a very different kind of place – home to a huge group of students with a vastly different set of spatial needs.

The interior is very modern in terms of its structure, spaces and materials but still retains hints of what it was before – places where you can see the exterior stone still on the inside and window openings that are the same size and shape as the originals.

The addition was carefully created to look quite different from the original building. As a result of this creative exterior design choice, the conversion process clearly still shows the original as an intact object and the built-out part as something new that makes clear it has a different history and origin.
Recycling Billboards into Modern Residential Buildings

As more and more advertising goes online and transportation conservation becomes an increasing economic and ecological concern, what is the future fate of the infamous billboard? One proposal by Front Architects suggests turning these into lofted homes – small houses to be sure, but located in some potentially fascinating places.

Some of these unusually thin homes could be built in place from scratch, others could be transported to new locations or even left where they are in the urban environment.
Some of these unusually thin homes could be built in place from scratch, others could be transported to new locations or even left where they are in the urban environment.

As with so many good design projects the feasibility of this specific idea as such is not of singular or even primary importance – the concept provides a foundation for rethinking everyday urban structures, artifacts of the built environment, that we might find new and different uses for as times change.

Alas, the above image is only a computer-generated overlay in a real situation. Still, what would it be like to live in somewhere so public yet also removed from the street level? Somewhere surrounded by four walls and lifted up from the ground but at the same time exposed on all sides? Somewhere so strange but central?
Salvaged Sections of Highway Converted into a House

Everyone has seen some of those offbeat recycled home designs created from odds and ends: plastic bottles, beer cans, rubber tires and other assorted typical trash or even shipping container houses. This house takes material reuse to a new level, effectively recycling an entire section of highway in the construction of its core structural center. “It’s kind of like Junkyard Wars meets Habitat for Humanity.”

Over 600,000 pounds of recycled materials went into making this massive concrete, glass and metal home that, at first, seems like any other luxurious ultramodern home from a distance. Giant steel beams and girders, however, start to show as one gets a closer look.

The Big Dig was a massive undertaking in Boston that cost billions of dollars and displaced tons upon tons of amazing prefabricated concrete and steel elements – ones that while useless to another industrial application are significantly overbuilt for simple light-weight residential.

The reality is: without this house being built the materials would have been discarded as storing them would have been too expensive. This is one of those cases where one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure – to the Big Dig builders it was useless, to a house it was priceless.

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