Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Gasometres Given New Life

It is a bit like the perfect self-contained hemispherical world of Truman Show, but in real life … and times four. Once constituting the largest gasworks in all of Europe, a series of stunning cylindrical brick structures from the 1800s have found an uncanny new use in modern times as a completely domed-interior town-within-a-city on a spectacular scale.

In their second life, these gasometer buildings have been converted into a giant community of shops, residences, hotels, entertainment, civic, public and garden spaces interconnected by a series of soaring skyways and uncanny underground passages.
Located in Vienna, Austria, these century-old buildings were abandoned shortly after construction as they were no longer needed to hold coal gas – leaving each of the four industrial structures with nearly 1,000,000 square feet (92,900m²) of unused interior space under gigantic roof-spanning skylights above – but it took nearly a hundred years until someone would think to turn them into a town.

The interiors vary from one 230-foot-tall (70m) structure to the next, giving them each a distinctive appearance and functional personality. With over 1500 residents and 70 shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, it is no wonder that urban designers and planners from around the world have studied the unique architectural and cultural phenomena and the virtual online community that has arisen out of this giant connected gasometre city.
Its interesting that the designers wanted to keep the original facade, and only develop the hollow middle of each cylinder. Maintaining the historical memory of what used to be was evidently one of the main objectives of this development.
Even though this concept may seem a bit far fetched, at Newstead in Brisbane, there is the perfect opportunity to mirror this development; creating something iconic and bold for our city.

The old gasometre skeleton which is visible from Breakfast Creek Road has the potential to be transformed into something amazing. The site is currently under development (see below for the current site plan), but there is yet to be any indication of how the steel structure will be used.

It would be fantastic to see the gasometre used for something like mixed use / residential / commercial, but I'm not sure if Brisbane is prepared or ready for such a giant creative leap.

1 comment:

  1. The heritage-listed gasometer structure in FKP's plans will be the focal point of the development and their most useful marketing tool. The company aims to advertise the structure as an open "public piazza" with strategic lighting and walkways to the surrounding commercial and retail outlets. According to the employees at FKP's Newstead display centre, the aim is to make this space of practical use to the community (with events, markets, performances, etc.) whilst mantainting the historical and intrinsic value of the framework.