New life for factories: how the loft trend is developing


The renovation of industrial buildings in Moscow has been taking place for several years: former industrial zones get a chance for a new life not only in the city center, but also outside it. Co-founder of Architects of Invention Anton Khmelnitsky talks about how architects are working to adapt former industrial buildings to a residential function

New Red

At first, the former buildings of factories and manufactories housed mainly office lofts: this style meant minimal adaptation of the former production workshops to the new function and the replacement of engineering systems. However, market trends have led to the fact that offices on the site of former factories are no longer something special. In search of the best formats for the development of industrial buildings and for a vision of their development already in the format of residential real estate, developers turned to architects.

Office for Bob the Robot on the site of a former bakery. Project by Joanna Laajisto's studio.

The trend for the transformation of factory and warehouse buildings into modern housing has historically developed in those European cities where industrial zones were located in the city center or on the waterfront. A typical example of such an industrial area is the former docks in London. Warehouses and factories have traditionally been located along the Thames, including in the very center of the city, so since the early 1980s, such areas have gradually turned into premium residential areas with business and shopping centers. In Moscow, this practice is only 10 years old, but today the world experience allows us to navigate the trends of “factory” housing.

Anna Mongait's apartment, located in the buildings of the former Rassvet plant. Project by Katerina Vinogradova.

Red brick factory buildings have a number of undeniable strengths that allow architects to adapt them to modern life. First of all, these are large windows, high ceilings, a wide grid of columns and the absence of load-bearing walls inside the premises. It is easy to work with such spaces, despite the great depth of the floors. At the same time, textured brick is preserved only from the outside. Inside, modern materials allow you to develop a variety of design solutions, more complex than just open communications and the lack of brick finishing. The buyer receives several advantages at once: on the one hand, life in a building with history, on the other, an adapted living space for the whole family.

Project of the architectural bureau BC-OA.

Change of priorities

It should be noted that according to Russian legislation, not every building of a former factory can be adapted for a residential function. Most of the projects are implemented in places of “light” industries – these are former weaving or confectionery factories. In most cases, it makes sense to reconstruct factory buildings for housing in the central districts of the city. For example, we have chosen this path of development for the former confectionery factory named after Marat on Malaya Ordynka.

Classic apartments in the collection of club houses ORDYNKA.

The high class of the project largely determines its location close to key attractions. The Marat Factory became a part of the ORDYNKA Club House Collection. Taking into account the characteristics of the building – the height of the ceilings and the large amount of natural light – we have managed to create functional apartments of a variety of sizes inside: from compact to duplex penthouses. At the same time, the historic restored facade will preserve the identity of Malaya Ordynka and its authentic appearance.

ORDYNKA Clubhouse Collection.

The work on the creation of housing in the buildings of the former production facilities is also difficult to comply with the requirements of security organizations for the preservation of cultural heritage sites. In such a project, the architect and developer always work with an existing building with its own history, with its features and style. The main task in this case is not just to create a spectacular and popular format of housing, but to preserve the spirit of the building and all its historical elements, including not only details of facades or entrance groups, but also supporting structures such as Monier vaults or columns.

Interior of the former coach house of the 18th century. Project Kingston Lafferty Design.

One of the most recent successful examples of housing development in former factories is the renovation of the Battersea Power Station in London. Built in 1941 in the Art Deco style, the power plant has acquired one of the most recognizable and beloved silhouettes in the city. Working with such an iconic object demanded that the architects of Wilkinson Eyre be careful and careful with respect to heritage.

In addition to offices, the facility provides for residential formats: apartments and villas are located in the eastern and western blocks. The architects managed to find an interesting combination of glass and stone. The creation of their own green “oases” for apartments and apartments in former factories also allows the buyer to take a fresh look at the format. And this is one of the advantages of “factory” projects – having their own territories where you can set up gardens or parks.

The first apartments in Battersea Power Station.

Not a loft anymore?

As the format spread on the market, the portrait of the buyer of such housing has also changed, especially in the premium and deluxe segments. Apartments or apartments in the buildings of former factories are bought by those who value the character of the house and its history, but at the same time strive to own modern, comfortable real estate.

The loft style itself in the design of housing in the buildings of former factories fades into the background. In essence, this concept is quite abstract, and first of all, aesthetics is determined by high ceilings and large windows. The furnishings depend on the taste and preferences of the buyer, who can decorate both modern and classic interiors within historic walls.

Apartment in Moscow. The old brick, still with the manufacturer's stamps, was carefully cleaned and covered with a matt varnish. The project of designers Irma Yunaeva and Polina Minakova from the studio “Archilab”.

Thus, the format of real estate in the buildings of former factories is changing along with its buyer. From office real estate to full-fledged housing, from minimalism in the interior to a variety of stylistic solutions. The goal of giving new life to historic buildings and creating new functional spaces within the framework of established industrial architecture remains unchanged.

Old apartment in the center of Lviv. Project Re + design bureau.

Other materials on the topic:

New trend: public spaces in which we live

10 industrial style interiors

Brick walls: 30+ inspiring examples

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