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The beauty and benefits of adaptive re-use

The beauty and benefits of adaptive re-use


Image above, UQ Kings College Wensley Way, photo by Christopher Frederick Jones. Written by Hamilton Wilson. 

With rising development pressures in our cities, it’s imperative to consider sustainability and continue to reuse and refurbish existing building stock. The demolition and construction process is not only costly but wasteful. Meanwhile, recycling a valued historic place couples energy savings with countless social and cultural advantages. The adaptive reuse and refurbishment of ageing buildings can address some of the key challenges facing our cities.

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Kings College at UQ adds a new wing to an existing building – bringing together old and new. Photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.


There can also be great beauty and inspiration in older buildings. It’s important to take an ageing building’s positive attributes and celebrate it, while at the same time overlaying contemporaneity.

We need to find the essence of what was once great about a building so that the memory of the past isn’t completely lost. When we read the history of a place, there’s so much more depth and interest in what we see.

Breathing new life into tired buildings also plays a critical role in the quality and design of the built environment and subsequently our standard of living. However, the challenge for architects to produce innovative and creative designs that retain historical significance is only increasing. We need to be sensitive to the past, present and future characteristics of our buildings, and excited about the prospect of marrying all three together.

All Hallows School. Photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.

All Hallows School. Photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.


With education, transport and technology constantly changing, so too do buildings and spaces need to change and adapt to meet the needs of how we live.

A redundant building transformed into a lively one that connects to its community is a wonderful way to reinvigorate a campus, school or neighbourhood.

Redcliffe Fire Station was revitalised by Wilson Architects in 2014.

Redcliffe Fire Station was revitalised by Wilson Architects in 2014.


We are currently working on a master plan for The Mercy Centre, which is located within the grounds of All Hallows’ secondary school in Brisbane. Some of the buildings on the site date back to 1858, and as such, are laden with historical significance. Through the master plan, the site will increasingly benefit from the traffic of inner-city crowds, and actively links the old, with the ‘new’ of the CBD.



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