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 shipping 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.
“The lofts are also a self-sufficient infrastructure with sustainble ideas: photovoltaics would provide the energy needed for warm water and heating, a wind catcher is placed, for summer ventilation and winter heating in the central axes of the building, in addition to a combined collection of rain and grey water system.”
“The control room of the automation of the CRANELOFT is placed to the preexistent crane control room. From that point the rotation system of the crane, the container’s movement, and the inclination of the photovoltaic panels can be programmed. In addition, this is the point from where the light and water consumption can be controlled. The whole structure can rotate 360 degrees due to a mechanism in the structure’s base. This controller orientates itself with the use of solar sensors so that, in collaboration with the electrical shadowing system on the glass surfaces, the sunning or shadowing depending on the needs, is granted.”