There’s something uniquely brilliant about renovation architecture compared to original design work. Taking an existing space and transforming it into something not only better than the original, but completely altering the program of the original building’s purpose carries with it a poetic weight that “from scratch” designs cannot. The building in the images below was erected in 1925/26 as an extension to the first pumping station in Berlin’s Neukoelln district dating from 1893. In 1993 new facilities were built on the adjoining premises and the old pumping station was decommissioned. Subsequently most of the machinery that had already been replaced in the 1950s was dismantled, only an old air vessel was retained as a relic from times of steam-powered technology. In 1989 the former pumping station was placed under preservation order.
It wasn’t until early 2006 when Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset caught sight of the house through an online real estate service and spontaneously decided to make it their new gallery headquarters, as well as their home. The pair were determined to make the original structure shine and alter it as little as possible–rather than contrasting the existing architecture with a trendy concept, the design seeks the fine line between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Many new elements in the house don’t appear to be new at first sight – without pretending to be historical. The building’s identity was retained and underlined. Yet by only few singular means the industrial interactiveness is broken up and the longitudinal axis is accorded an emphasis, that creates a solemn atmosphere regarding the new use as an art space. You can see more pics and information about the renovation at ArchDaily.