The PLACEmaking blog

The life of a building


Alison White and Fintan Burke


October 25, 2022

With a good enough structure the buildings we live and work in can last for 75 years or more. During those years they can expect to see many different ‘ages’: from purpose built factory, to repurposed office building, to innovative hybrid spaces, the way we use space is always changing. Our buildings may have been built for one reason, but may end up being used for something completely different.


The Factory

When first built many building were designed to fulfil a specific purpose. Space and layout were directly related to function, with little focus on multiple uses or future adaptability. In our factory, specific space has been allocated for functions such as a canteen, manufacturing workshop and admin typing pool. Whilst shopkeepers and their families lived above the shop there was more generally a distinct separation between spaces designated for work from where people lived.


The Office

With changes to the nature of how we work, buildings that were originally designed for one purpose were gradually repurposed for different uses. As manufacturing in our cities reduced and office based occupations increased, existing factory buildings were often adapted. In our building we can see that space once dedicated to a factory floor now houses open plan desk space with meeting rooms and cellular offices. The canteen is now an informal ‘breakout’ space.


The Hybrid Space

Looking forward and with workplace technology liberating how, when and where we work our original factory building is now being used in more innovative and unrestrictive ways. Hybrid working is not only possible but preferred by many people and so the need for 9-5 office space is reducing as the demand for creative living solutions grows. So our original factory has adapted again, this time for mixed uses all co-existing under the same roof including small creative business start-ups, drop-in workspace, retail and a café plus places to live (and garden!).

Subscribe to our mailing list

Let's Work Together


Box 18, Boxworks
Clock Tower Yard,
Bristol BS1 6QH

Copyright © 2024 All right reserved.
+ posts
Fintan Burke
+ posts