Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read



Most people get the three "R"s of green living: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Here's a fourth: Repurpose—As in turning a wine barrel into a hotel room or using glass bottles to decorate a temple. Repurposed buildings save material by reusing existing structures—it's also called adaptive reuse—or recycling otherwise landfill-bound objects as building materials. Here's what repurposing looks like around the world:

Bust Stop

Bus Stop Shelter, Athens, Georgia
Designer/sculptor Christopher Fennell used pieces from three yellow school buses of different years (1962, 1972, and 1977) to construct this bus stop shelter. The scraps were welded together with seats from an old city bus.


Recycloop, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Built by 2012 Architecten and Jeanne van Heeswijks of Jeanneworks, the multi-purpose cultural center is made entirely from reclaimed kitchen sinks and held together with wire, scaffolding, and waterproof insulation boards.

Brooklynite Gallery

Brooklynite Gallery, Brooklyn, New York
The chic white patterns on the rear façade of this Brooklyn art gallery are actually made up of more than 100 refrigerator doors—cut into geometric shapes and pieced together like a puzzle. Since the doors of refrigerators must be removed when they're tossed, gallery owner Rae McGrath wanted to recycle the doors, eventually coming up with this idea and collecting the doors over a 3-year period. Handles and other shelving inside the doors were removed so they would lie flat on against the wall.

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Temple

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Temple, Thailand
Over 1 million used glass bottles were donated to construct this Buddhist temple in Sisaket, a province 400 miles northeast of Bangkok. The bottles, which were mostly former alcohol bottles, were used for everything from the ceremony hall to the toilets to the crematorium.

Hotel De Vrouwe van Stavoren

Hotel De Vrouwe van Stavoren, Stavoren, Holland
Four rooms in this hotel are made of 15,000-liter wine barrels, salvaged from Swiss drums that held Beaujolais wine from France.

Annie MG Schmidt House

Annie MG Schmidt House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Arons and Gelauff Architects and development companies Am and De Alliantie won the city's adaptive reuse design competition to turn two former sewage treatment silos in the Zeeburg district into a cultural center with exhibitions, a movie theater, shops, and a theater, as well as featuring an open rooftop playground on a silo, and a restaurant on the other. The structure is expected to be completed next year.

Images via Christopher Fennell (bus stop shelter), 2010 Architecten (Recycloop), Brooklynite Gallery, Greenupgrader (temple), Hotel De Vrouwe van Stavoren, Arons and Gelauff Architects (Annie MG Schmidt House)