Recycle, reuse, repurpose and upcycle – these buzzwords fly off the tongue with ease as hipsters discover new uses for discarded items. A quick search of the internet yields a plethora of everyday items created from trash including old bicycle parts, vinyl records, denim jeans, shipping pallets and everything in between. Creativity is evident when exploring the many re- uses of readily available shipping pallets – saving mountains of scrap wood from hitting the landfill. Pallets can be found crafted into tables, chairs, platform beds, compost bins, fencing and vertical gardens, shelving, and shoe, bike and wine racks. The possibilities seem limited only by the imagination.
Repurposing on a larger scale is what a Vancouver developer is doing with heritage buildings. Robert Fung of the residential development company, the Salient Group made a mark on Gastown converting aging heritage buildings into vibrant live and work spaces simultaneously transforming Gastown into a lively, hip place to be.
The Paris Block and the Taylor Building are examples of two heritage structures in Gastown saved from possible demolition by neglect by the Salient Group; ensuring more of Vancouver’s built heritage will survive. The innovative developer not only restored the buildings but added layers of history and texture to the city ensuring a more liveable, vibrant community. In the once gritty area around Victory Square in Vancouver, the Salient Group restored the circa 1889 Flack Block. The heritage building now provides commercial office space and has contributed to the overall revitalization of the Hastings and Cambie neighbourhood. In 2012 the Museum of Vancouver presented a City Shaper Award to Robert Fung for his restoration of Vancouver’s built heritage and his commitment to sustainable urbanism.
Below is a newspaper article about his current project, restoration of the1899 Trapp Building in New Westminster.
Here in Chilliwack, large scale repurposing can be found in the Young Street offices of the architectural firm Craven Huston Powers. Once known as Chilliwack Firehall # 1, CHP saved the 1940’s late modernist two story fire hall from demolition around 2005 by restoring the upper floor as office space for their firm and repurposing the downstairs for the Chilliwack Business Improvement Association offices.
CHP Architects and BIA offices
Fire Hall #1