Adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings need not be difficult, as illustrated by this dog therapy center in a former warehouse

Adaptively reusing buildings has a reputation for being difficult. It certainly can be, such as when the site has structural or contamination issues, or when the new use requires spaces that are totally unlike the previously-designed spaces.

That last challenge can be avoided by matching the repurposing of the function to the type of space needed by the previous function.

Such is the case in Merelbeke, Belgium, where the architects at WE-S architecten had a client who wished to adaptively reuse an abandoned warehouse, loading dock and adjacent office building as a dog therapy center.

Here’s how the architects describe their approach
to repurposing and renewing the complex:

The program demands about 850m2 of a built-up area consisting of a multipurpose room of 225m2, 285m2 of dog facilities, 115m2 of office space, 185m2 of storage space as well as a concierge home.

We suggested positioning the double-height training room for dogs centrally within the building.

The offices, the polyvalent hall, the kennels, and all logistics facilities are grouped around the training hall. The concierge is housed within the adjacent building (STEP 1).

The office spaces are partially beveled to mark an entry hall, acting as a glass in-between spaces for both buildings (STEP 2).

The polyvalent hall on the southeast side is partially rotated in order to realize an adjacent covered terrace (STEP 3).

The kennels are angled. This creates an indoor play area for the dogs (STEP 4).

On the north side, the volume is also beveled, resulting in a covered loading and unloading space for the delivery of goods (STEP 5).

The result is a pentagonal volume that is linked to the concierge home by a glass in-between space. The existing volumes are thus virtually untouched, with the exception of the glass entrance hall, as well as the roof extension on top of the training hall, providing sufficient daylight into the building (STEP 6).

Photos by Johnny Umans.

See WE-S architecten website.

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