• Hub Architects

Top 10 Retro-Fit Buildings around the world by Hub Architects


Did you know there is a form of Architecture called Retro-Fit Architecture? This is whereby providing something with a component or feature not fitted during manufacture or adding something that it did not have when first constructed. Retrofitting has come to prominence in recent years as part of the drive to make buildings more thermal efficient and sustainable.

This can help cut carbon emissions, make it cheaper and easier to run buildings, and can contribute to overcoming poor ventilation and damp problems, therefore improving the health of occupants. It can also can increase building adaptabilitydurability and resiliency.


Here is Hub Architects opinion of the top ten Retro-Fit Buildings around the world


1. Antwerp Port House


Location: Belgium

Architect: Zaha Hadid


The Antwerp Port House is one of the last projects done by world renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The client required Zaha to preserve the century old fire brigade building while adding a modern space for all 500 employees of Antwerp Port’s authority to meet. Thus, she created this retro-fit Vessel-like structure to accommodate them.


Image found at; https://www.arch2o.com/port-house-antwerp-zaha-hadid-architects/


2. Music School Louvier


Location: France

Architect: Opus 5 Architects


Did you know that the well-known Music School Louvier’s building was originally a prison for French inmates back in 1933 before turned into the spectacular music school it is today, In its most recent renovation, the architects sought to reflect the building’s heritage while inserting a functional new orchestral space. Using smart retrofit architecture to create a building that harmonizes with its older counterpart using a smart glass façade. The design was carefully constructed to dismantle any associations with the site’s prior connection to the prison – both in a psychological and physical way.


Image found at: https://www.yatzer.com/Music-School-Louviers-Extension-by-Opus-5-Architectes


3. The Mill Junction


Location: Johannesburg Central

Architect: Citig development


Taking old silos and adding containers on top of them to create affordable yet stylish student accommodation, The Mill Junction is the definition of Retrofit in South Africa. Comprising of 375 individual apartments, in addition to a host of study facilities, libraries, lounges and computer rooms. In order to provide additional floor space, a series of stacked shipping containers encompass the 11-storey silos, providing a vibrant and colorful addition the city’s skyline.

Image found at: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/mill-junction-container-residences-overlook-johannesburg-02-10-2014/


4. Blencowe Hall


Location: England

Architect: Graham Norman


An old manor in England was in ruins until architect Graham Norman was tasked with revitalising the building whilst keeping what was left of the structure intact. The buildings had sustained damage by the southern-tower which was missing a roof, as well as a breach in its east wall. The architect envisioned a solution that would insert a steel frame and glazed wall into the reach. The results were magnificent, adding a modern feature to the building while keeping it historic nature and significance alive. The Blencowe Hall is now a luxury Hotel in England and can be visited by anyone.


Image found at: https://www.grahamknorman.co.uk/blencowe-hall


5. The Derelict Water Tower

Location: England

Architect: Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce


This former Victorian water tower in the middle of London, England has been turned into an architecturally impressive single-family home. The original 38000-gallon tank that sits atop the building once supplied Charlie Chaplin and his mother who lived nearby. The tank now however has been converted into two reception rooms with 360 degree views of Kennington and the City. The other contemporary extension is a four-story glass-fronted cube that houses the kitchen, dining and lower reception areas. The remainder of the building consists of 5 neatly decorated bedrooms and 4 bathrooms making this a spacious and unique house to live in.


Image found at: https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/a-victorian-water-tower-turned-modern-home-in-london-96886


6. Dancing House


Location: Prague

Architect: Vlado Milunić and Frank Gehry


The Dancing House in Prague is one of the city’s most famous buildings due to its rich history during World War 2 when the original building was destroyed by USA bombing in 1945. The building was redesigned in 1992 into the Dancing House; with a design that is significantly retrofit for its unique new design and architecture style which is completely different to its surroundings.


Image found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_House


7. Drivelines Studio


Location: Maboneng, Johannesburg

Architect: Lot-Ek


Comprising of 140 container units, this innovative upcycled & retrofit design can be found in Maboneng and is a smart solution for affordable residential apartments in South Africa.

Image found at: https://inhabitat.com/lot-ek-upcycles-140-shipping-containers-into-an-apartment-complex-in-south-africa/drivelines-studio-by-lot-ek-3/


8. Port Elizabeth Opera House


Location: Port Elizebeth

Architect: Matrixcc


The Opera House in Port Elizabeth is a great example of Retro-Fit Architecture in South Africa. This building is not only the oldest theatre in Africa but also in the entire Southern hemisphere. It is the last Victorian styled theatre in Africa so retro-fit was needed to extend the building, revitalizing whilst maintaining its original architecture style.


Photo Credit to Rob Duker: http://www.robduker.com/about.html


9. FRAC Dunkerque


Location: France

Architect: Lacaton and Vassal


A old boat warehouse was duplicated with a modern flare to create a art gallery filled with contemporary art from all over the world. The duplicated boat house was mainly constructed out of glass to give it the modern feel. The contrast created is amazing.


Image found at: https://www.arch2o.com/frac-dunkerque-lacaton-vassal/




10. Saint Francesc Covenant


Location: Spain

Architect: David Closes


The Sant Francesc Covenant in Spain was in tatters until architect David Closes developed an innovative way to bring life to the dilapidated structure.

Image found at: https://inhabitat.com/modern-interventions-used-to-renovate-the-crumbling-sant-francesc-church-in-spain/

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