Brownfield Sites, Meet Industrial Buildings: The Perfect Ecological Solution
Brownfield sites, land with known or suspected pollution, have always been a bit of an ecological conundrum. It’s not always possible to return them to the environment if they’ve been contaminated by waste, but they’re not an attractive (or safe) place to build a family home, either. So, what is there to do about these unused swathes of land? One ingenious solution is the conversion of industrial buildings to luxury apartments.
Industrial buildings don’t always come with brownfield sites, but the two go hand-in-hand; often, whatever industry was there before was the cause of the polluted land in the first place. However, these barren fields and vacant warehouses are seeing new life in the “warehouse conversion” movement throughout Australia. By returning these fields to the city through converting them into housing, it changes them from a waste of space to a brilliant piece of prime real estate.
The warehouse conversion concept has been popular for some time, but its trending rise has spurred a truly eco-friendly reuse of the brownfield sites that the warehouses sometimes sit on. Like we stated above, the sites can’t really be given back to the environment, so the only options are to rebuild or leave what’s already there.
Obviously, if the brownfield site is unsafe for habitation, efforts to remedy that need to be taken first. However, leaving the buildings that already exist on these properties instead of tearing them down both preserves their history and saves money. That’s why the warehouse conversion and the brownfield site go together so well; attractive apartments can be built within the existing infrastructure that’s both cheaper and arguably as in-demand as new construction.
Unfortunately, the idea isn’t perfect. Since the buildings are so large, they’re not particularly eco-friendly, and they often face challenges due to the level of technology they were built with, such as inefficient ducting, plumbing, or wiring, unless these are fixed artificially. The large buildings are also very expensive to heat in the wintertime. In comparison to alternative options, though, the warehouse conversion option is still tough to beat.
Once a brownfield suite is decontaminated, the question often remains what to do with it. However, with the luxury-apartment-warehouse-conversion option, we have a relatively cheap way to repurpose the real estate of the original building, all while preserving its history. While the buildings themselves may be less than perfect to begin with, the repurposing of the land is certainly an environmentally friendly message that many have heard.
If you’re considering a warehouse conversion, or just have an industrial site you want to be more eco-friendly, have a look at Eco Sustainable House’s full range here. With rainwater tanks, venting skylights, solar hot water, green walls and much more, you can really transform any building.
Alicia Rennoll (Environmental Research)
Concrete: Durable Interiors, Unique Designs
Modern design is more practical than ever, doing away with frivolous gilded edges and fragile painted porcelain and embracing minimalist tenets. Enter the humble poured concrete. It’s hard-wearing, versatile and can be as sleek or textured as you like in the workplace or the home. Employing thousands of Australians – many in regional areas – the cement industry is also an important contributor to regional employment. With more and more boutique manufacturing operations starting up locally it’s easier than ever to bring this contemporary material in from the outside.
Building with concrete is much faster and once cut it can be polished to a smooth finish or covered with a coloured or clear epoxy material to protect against oil and chemical spills. This makes them as equally useful in homes as they are in commercial buildings. It makes for a durable and sophisticated kitchen floor, too, even used as a benchtop or splashback for a bold look that brings an industrial edge to your interior design. Consider creating a unique architectural focal point with an eye-catching feature like a bespoke, poured-concrete staircase.
Not looking to remodel your whole building? As a material that doesn’t require extra treatments to reach even the most stringent fire codes, concrete can be more than just a floor or wall. Artists have experimented with the material crafting everything from bathtubs to chairs. With modern oxides and pigments introducing more colour choice than the standard grey, concrete furniture can be a modern feature in any room, blending with any existing palette or standing out for an unexpected pop of colour. Whether it’s an item of furniture like a slab top table or just a small decorative piece like a pendant lamp or vase you can introduce the cool texture to any spot in the house or office effortlessly.
But what if the space you’re in has concrete you would like to soften up? Concrete can make large spaces feel cold, so the right furnishings are crucial. Bright colours, thick or patterned carpets, the classic scatter cushion or a lavish throw draped over the back of a dramatic reading chair. Consider lighting with exposed bulbs for a warm, welcoming ambiance or paper lampshades for an eco-friendly injection of an interesting texture. Concrete is an incredibly versatile material but as it’s commonly associated with external urban architecture. It can be a great tool to blur the line between indoors and outdoors, so take advantage of it and bring some nature into your property. This works especially well alongside indoor plants. They bring vibrancy into your interior space and can balance out concrete’s cooler tones - and they also improve indoor air quality.
At the end of it’s useful life, concrete can be crushed up and recycled – that is, if it ever goes out of style. In small or large doses it can be a versatile deign addition to your interior that promises to be an effortless design staple for your home or business. You can get your very own designer concrete baths, bench tops and basins from Eco Sustainable House.