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In difficult economic times, repurposed architecture takes on new meaning and immediacy. Two Greek design students at the University of Thessaly, Yorgos Rimenidis & Michalis Softas, took on the task of imagining how waterfront cranes could be converted into residential spaces.

Cranes are unwieldy urban creatures – massive, expensive, and often occupying significant and valuable downtown space. This idea incorporates these old structures into the existing urban fabric with minimal alterations, and could bring fresh capital to failing cities via high-end real estate.

The design also utilizes existing functionality of the crane, allowing residents to rotate their habitat to take maximum advantage of solar power, for instance, or use the crane’s lifting capabilities to pick up containers and expand living spaces.

Of course, this is a student concept design – it has pragmatic limitations in the real world. Nonetheless, as a short-term solution in unused ports or simple a rhetorical device for engaging urban reuse it is rather brilliant and quite beautiful.