Saturday, August 09, 2014

Two Spalding warehouse conversions

click photo to enlarge
In the UK finding new uses for old industrial or commercial buildings often results in them being converted into living accommodation. From power stations to old agricultural barns, fire stations to tea warehouses, apartments of varying sizes and prices are very often the first choice for a redundant building. It's not always the case; I've seen churches that became recording studios and cafes, a police station that became a restaurant, and more than one corn exchange transformed into a theatre. However, on a relatively small island with an ever growing population, housing of one form or another will often take precedence over any other use for a surplus building.

The other day we were walking around Spalding, Lincolnshire. The weather was sunny and the light clear and sharp. It was a good opportunity to photograph buildings. When I came to review my collection of shots I was prompted to reflect on the images of two Georgian warehouses that have been re-purposed (as modern parlance has it). One is barely recognisable as a structure from the eighteenth century, so complete have been its successive makeovers. Gone are the warm bricks to be replaced by painted render that is moulded to resemble ashlar blocks. The central hatches have been converted to windows and the hoist has gone too. In 1947 a main entrance with a hint of "Moderne" about it was created. It is now, I believe,either apartments or offices, with the name, White House Chambers.

The second example was formerly a warehouse belonging to the company of F. Long, but is now multiple apartments. It is a later conversion and has retained much more of its original character. Look at this building and you can immediately see its past. The original brickwork with its imperfections has not been too heavily modified. The rows of windows remain, as do the central hatches, but they are less integrated into the facade than in my other example. No attempt has been made to disguise the anchor plates of the tie rods that brace the building against lateral bowing; in fact they have been made into features. And, the pantiles of the roof, though probably not original, are characteristic of the period of the building unlike the concrete tiles of the other warehouse.

It seems to me that the way these warehouses have been converted exemplify two of the main approaches to such a task: treat the original building as a shell to be updated and made serviceable without any particular regard for its past, or retain the character of the original while doing sufficient to achieve its new purpose. Thankfully, today, the latter approach is more usual.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 66mm (99mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On