7 Worldwide Buildings Getting New Life as Student Housing

By Adina Marcut

After built structures become disused or abandoned, adaptive reuse can be the perfect way to breathe new life into an old building, while conserving resources and historic value. Whether due to environmental reasons, land availability or the desire to conserve a historic landmark, many architectural firms worldwide are turning to adaptive reuse as a solution to some of the modern problems of the built environment. Here are seven examples of adaptive reuse projects underway around the world:

  1. The conversion of Chicago’s old Plymouth Building

Justin Elliott, co-founder and former owner of Chicago Apartment Finders, is teaming up with LG Development for the conversion of a 117-year-old Chicago construction into student housing. The 1899 South Loop office building is being transformed into a 30-unit, 140-bed off-campus apartment community.

Located at 417 S. Dearborn St., the historic, adaptive reuse project Plymouth Building has been renamed as The Plymouth. The three- and four-bedroom off-campus student housing building serves nearby colleges such as Roosevelt, Robert Morris, DePaul and Columbia. Common area amenities include a fitness center, bike room, rooftop terrace, coffee shop and study lounge designed by NORR Architects.

  1. BIG converting shipping containers into student housing in Copenhagen harbor

Urban Rigger—a Danish housing and architect firm—has transformed nine shipping containers into 15 studio residences over two levels. Each unit can house up to 12 students. Common area amenities include a courtyard, a bathing platform, a kayak landing and a barbecue area. The dorm is powered by solar-energy and insulated with ultra-light aerogels developed by NASA, and the rooms are equipped with mobile app-operated laundries.

  1. Jestico + Whiles transforming town hall into student halls

Student housing developer Alumno Developments chose architecture and interior design firm Jestico + Whiles, to oversee the renewal of the historic property on Peckham Road. Built in 1872, the former town hall was in use for 150 years before its sale to the University of the Arts London.

Located in south London, Southwark Town Hall has been renovated and repurposed to accommodate student housing and a mixed-use arts hub, including a theater contained in a folded, tile-clad extension. The refurbished buildings consist of 166 rooms serving students of Goldsmiths College, as well as common rooms, lounges and private gardens.

“Our proposal for the town hall took a fresh approach, which respected the history and character of existing buildings, but aimed to mark a new phase of history for this important site within the local community,” David Campbell, Alumno’s managing director, said in a statement.

  1. Macro Sea converting Berlin factory into student residences

G.27 Global Institute is a two-building community converted from a former car-radio button factory into a 260-room community. Developed by Macro Sea, the property features 79,000 square feet of space. Each floor has 40 rooms and a communal kitchen and lounge area. The project was developed for a nonprofit organization, Council on International Educational Exchange.

  1. CF Møller Architects’ intertwining brick towers

Campus Hall, the approximately 147,000-square-foot complex, comprises three interconnected 15-story towers, offering 250 units to serve the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. Each of the three towers is composed of custom-made gray bricks.

Common area amenities include a ground floor café that sits alongside administration offices and a lobby, as well as a study and party spaces on the top floors that open onto roof terraces.

“The building’s distinctive shape will make it easily recognizable on the campus and clearly advertises its distinct residential content.” The Danish firm, said in a statement.

  1. Washington, D.C.’s retired cargo containers reinvented as student housing

The District’s first shipping container apartment development stands four stories tall and features 18 cargo containers with an occupancy of 24. Sea UA is meant to be an affordable housing option for college students. Each of the building’s four levels will have a single six-bedroom, six-bathroom apartment. Each of the apartments will have a shared kitchen, living area, dining room and laundry room.

  1. Urban buildings repurposed as student housing

Located on Toronto’s East End, the development was initially purpose-built to be converted into condominium homes. One of the buildings being repurposed will accommodate George Brown students. Construction company Ellis Don handled the project. 

“It’s a huge attraction, so we think it will help us with our applicants,” Anne Sado, president of George Brown College, said in a statement. “We can’t accommodate them all but we’re hoping over time to develop some more residence capacity. The ideal would be another 500-1,000 beds.”

Images courtesy of Dezeen.Com, DigitalTrends.Com and Mnn.Com

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