Which Australian city boasts the world’s best adaptive reuse project?
June 1st, 2016
An Adelaide ‘clean-tech hub’ that combines industry, universities, TAFE and SMEs is being is hailed as a world-class exemplar of adaptive reuse.
When Mitsubishi stopped making cars in Australia in 2008, with the loss of 1000 jobs, the South Australian government unveiled plans to build a ‘clean tech hub’ in place of the manufacturing plant. Having acquired the 61-hectare site at Tonsley, south of Adelaide, Renewal SA planned to demolish the factory buildings and remove all traces of the failed industry, in effect to wipe the slate clean before starting again from scratch. However, architects Woods Bagot proposed an innovative masterplan that convinced their client to retain a significant portion of the site’s industrial fabric. An 8-hectare steel-framed shed was stripped back to its elegant skeleton, which now forms the basis of a bold new mixed-use precinct.
In collaboration with Tridente Architects, Woods Bagot developed a series of Pods to attract new businesses – small, medium and large – to take up residence under the giant factory roof. Now, the Motor Assembly Building, or MAB as it’s known, sits at the heart of an energetic high-tech industrial park, and attracts people from across the city and the surrounding neighbourhood to study, work, eat and drink, play sport, and socialise. The project has become a symbol of South Australia’s commitment to the new ‘knowledge economy’, and it collected a global award for adaptive reuse in early 2016, beating 60 entries from around the world to take out the top prize.
Words by Rachel Bernstone.
Photography Sam Noonan.
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