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10 converted homes that make the case for adaptive reuse


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated with the most recent information and new examples.

As we’ve seen time and again, old barns, churches, and warehouses—with their soaring ceilings just begging to be turned into hip loft residences—are prime for spectacular conversions. But of course, those are far from the only structures that can be reused marvelously. The following 10 examples—an assortment of very odd water towers, architectural remnants of bygone wars, and even a Le Corbusier boiler room—show that kookier spaces can transform into compelling dwellings, too.

In Spain, a stone water cistern from 1955 became an elegant modern home, with an added open living space on the top floor. The arc of the central glass wall follows the curve of the original well. Bedrooms and bathrooms conveniently fit inside the old cistern underneath.

Once tasked with lifting and loading heavy containers in the Bristol Harbor, Crane 29 is now an utterly charming B&B with a wooden cabin erected some 26 feet off the ground. The “treehouse,” built with sustainable materials and entirely carbon-neutral, offers a rustic-homey interior with lots of plants.

Ever want really, really, really high ceilings? You’d find it in this Barcelona pad, converted from a 1930s dairy. The home keeps the original facades, roof, ceiling beams, and brick pillar at the heart of the home, while adding new metal beams, glassways, and a suspended walkway.

Photos via Wowhaus

With clean lines and a crisp white exterior, this former World War 2 radar station in Scotland was destined for a second life as a cool modern house. The open-plan space has expansive windows with oak floors and a contemporary kitchen.

Photos by Enric Fabre

Originally housing a dry-cleaning shop, this long, narrow space now houses a young family with living spaces created below and above the main ground level. The bathroom is the only fully enclosed space with built-in storage serves as partition for the different “rooms.”

How darling is this teal Victorian water tower turned home in the small English town of Hertford? The three-floor, three-bedroom dwelling runs on a circular floorplan—duh—which can be navigated via a central American Oak spiral staircase.

Photos via Patrice-Besse

Come for its ruby red veranda and exposed concrete, stay for its juicy secret: this fixer upper in France once housed the boiler room for Le Corbusier’s iconic Radiant City (Cité radieuse) complex nearby. The industrial-chic converted dwelling offers over 3,000 square feet to work with.

Photos via Savills

Built in the 1930s, this pair of heritage-listed Art Deco water towers is now a super cool looking modern home that even shows up in the British show Gadget Man. The property, called The Lime Works, went on the market for a cool £3,750,000 a couple of years ago, but now only wants at least £750,000.

Perhaps the kookiest example in this roundup, this sewer pipe hotel in Austria speaks for itself. Dasparkhotel opens from May to October each year and operates on a pay-as-you-wish basis. Each dwelling is spruced up with a mural, simple bedding, and a lamp.

This renovated London mansion was originally built in the 1950s as a secret nuclear bunker for government officials during the Cold War. Whereas it once held showers, food, water, fuel backup, generators, a map room, air filtration systems, and more, now it’s more of a luxury home with a courtyard swimming pool and atrium-style glass roof.