Real Estate

Unique Converted Homes 2013

Unique Converted Homes 2013

Photo by: Julian Weyer | C.F. Møller

This is the third-annual collection of residences that were created from buildings that formerly served other purposes. The visionaries who dreamed up and created these homes started off with disused and neglected buildings (one dating back five centuries) and transformed them into unusual habitations designed for modern lifestyles.

Some categories of buildings are favorites when it comes to adaptive reuse, and you'll see a few types here that have been featured before in this series, yet the results are still completely different. Other homes in this collection were made from unexpected structures. Whatever their starting points, the resulting examples of adaptive reuse range from simple and minimal or rustic to contemporary. And whereas Unique Converted Homes on CNBC has featured many single-family home conversions in the past, this go-round features a few more apartments than usual.

By Colleen Kane
Posted 11 Jan. 2013



Location: Barcelona

This 500-year-old cloister in the convent of SaintAugustine in Barcelona's old quarter is attached to a late 19th-century building that was a royal estate and later a fabric storefor the past two decades. Following a stunning transformation byinterior designers Elina Vila and Agnes Blanch of MINIM Studio thecombined spaces now serve as an apartment for a young couple with asmall child. All told, it's nearly 2,000-plus square feet ofinterior space plus the courtyard, which also includes a smallgazebo by great Barcelona modernist Antoni Gaudi. Retained featuresinclude a Moorish-type solid wood door carved all in onepiece. The cloister's outer wall was left unpainted to retainthe antique look.

Water Treatment Plant


Location: United Kingdom

Locals call it Tracy Island, for its resemblance to the island base in the 1960s TV series "Thunderbirds," according to an article in This is Kent, but the Lime Works is a 1930s modernist former water-softening treatment plant owned by an antiques shop owner and his partner. This far-out facility shut down in 1942, and in the 1960s the water board planted poplars to hide it as it was considered an eyesore, reports the Sunday Times. The owners bought the derelict plant in 2005 and began transforming it into a spacious residence with four floors of living space connected by spiral staircases (with the master suite taking up the whole fourth floor), floor-to-ceiling windows, a movie theater and gym, two kitchens, a rooftop swimming pool and another roof terrace, and hilltop views of the surrounding countryside. When the pair was 90 percent finished with the transformation, they decided The Lime Works was too big, and it's listed it with Savills for approximately $4,756,000, down from the January 2012 asking price of approximately $6,046,000.

Water Tower


Location: London

This Venetian Gothic tower topped with an iron water tank was transformed last year into a private home. Lambeth Workhouse Water Tower was built in 1877 to serve the Lambeth Workhouse and Infirmary, a onetime home to Charlie Chaplain that became Lambeth Hospital. Little is left of the main buildings, but the water tower stood untouched for years until the owners bought it, discovering 2,000 dead pigeons inside, according to My Modern Met.

After eight months of construction and rehabilitation, it's now a four-bedroom home. The water tank living room area topping the tower has black windows blending with the black iron from below. From the inside, those windows offer 360 degree views to modern London.



Location: Jersey City, N.J.

The 14-acre Jersey City Medical Center originated in 1882 as Charity Hospital, with other buildings added during the Great Depression as a WPA project, but the complex closed down in 1988.

In recent years, the 10 landmark Art Deco buildings have been undergoing transformation into The Beacon apartment complex, including the restoration of marble flooring, chandeliers, plaster and other decorative features. The suite formerly serving as the mayor's office is now a poker room; a theater is used for events and parties, and many other amenities for residents have been added like a sun deck with barbecues and a fire pit, an indoor pool and spa and a daycare facility.


Photo by: Huntley Hedworth

Location: Cagli, Marche, Italy

This 18th century chapel in the Italian countryside has been transformed into a one-bedroom guest house called La Pieve. The conversion retained the pitched ceiling and the arches, and even the old confessional remains as a furnishing. The bedroom suite is in the former sacristy in the back. The place is simply outfitted with a wood burning stove and a kitchen for making sacrilicious meals. La Pieve and its adjacent former presbytery are available as vacation rentals.



Location: Bondi, Sydney, Australia

This landmark church in Mill Hill near Sydney's center was reconfigured into two luxury apartments by Baker Kavanagh architects. Rather than just redesigning the interior of the church as many church conversions do, the architects added two contrasting contemporary terraces as well as a pool in illuminated blue. It also retains traditional church elements of pointed arch stained glass windows and vaulted beamed ceilings.

Pumping Station


Location: Berlin

The former Pumpwerk Berlin of Neukoelln was built in the 1890s and by 1990s fell out of use when replaced by a new pumping system. Beginning in 2006, Wenk and Wiese Architects transformed the pumping station into spacious loft-like minimalist black and white apartments, a gallery and studio space.

Industrial Silo

Photo by: Julian Weyer | C.F. Møller

Location: Loegten, Denmark

As the website for the architectural firm C.F. Moeller points out, disused industrial water towers rise from the center of many small towns in Denmark. This residential conversion is one way to address that concern. Starting in 2004 and completed in 2010, C.F. Moeller in collaboration with Christian Carlsen Arkitektfirma transformed this tower into approximately 33,368 square feet of residential space plus 16,145 square feet for mixed use. That includes 21 apartments that were added to the central silo "a bit like Lego bricks," all of which have views of Aarhus Bay. The silo itself contains the elevators and staircases, and its roof is now a shared roof terrace for the residents.


Photo by: Jenny Elia Pfeiffer | SHED Architecture & Design

Location: Whidbey Island, Washington

In 2001, the Seattle architecture and design firm SHED completed the transformation of this former barn and adjacent garage structure into a modern yet rustic home that's also a guest house and work space. Many sustainable and recycled materials were incorporated, such the salvaged cedar of the original barn siding for the interior walls, salvaged wood beams for countertops and benches. A salvaged clawfoot bathtub and other plumbing fixtures were reused.