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The UK’s Abandoned Buildings Reimagined

Feb 18, 2020
The UK’s Abandoned Buildings Reimagined
Up and down the country there is a vast array of historical buildings that are now abandoned or in a state of decay; but what if these buildings were bought back to life?

Here at Barratt Homes, we love imagining how interesting buildings could look. Regenerating disused areas and building communities is a big part of what we do – from the redevelopment of the former West Ham United football ground in east London to the transformation of disused public land such as Cane Hill Hospital in Coulsdon. So, we’ve reimagined five of the UK’s most interesting derelict spaces as new designs that could provide a different use for the space.

From a luxury glamping retreat on water to a sustainable underground farm, check out the gallery below.

Click on the images to reveal the before and after designs.


Aldwych Tube Station, London, rendered as an exclusive underground bar and restaurant


Subterranean bars and basement restaurants have become quite the trend in recent years, so we reimagined London Aldwych tube station as an exclusive underground speakeasy bar and restaurant, inspired by the likes of Cahoots in Soho and Le Wagon Blue restaurant in Paris.

Transport for London claims there are at least 40 overground and underground stations still in existence that are no longer used for travel. Aldwych – which was known as Strand for the first eight years of its existence – is one of the most well-known in the list but is said to be one of London’s most pointless underground stations.

Aldwych remains in disrepair, however in more recent years, the tube station has doubled up as a filming location for productions, including The Prodigy's 'Firestarter' music video, and zombie movie, '28 Weeks Later.'


Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Wales, reimagined as a remote wellness spa harnessing renewable energy


Point of Ayr Lighthouse at Talacre, Flintshire, was originally built in c. 1776 but has stood abandoned since its last use in 1883. Since then it has become a popular landmark for visitors to the dunes and nearby holiday park.

Standing at 60ft tall with an 18ft diameter, the lighthouse is about as remote as you could wish for, as the single door to the three-storey stone building is only accessible at low tide. The top floor provides views over Liverpool Bay and the Dee estuary, and on the balcony stands a 7ft tall sculpture of a lighthouse keeper made from highly polished stainless steel.

Our design reimagines the famous local lighthouse as a remote wellness spa. Its location is ideal for a true Welsh getaway and being surrounded by water makes it the perfect spot for harnessing renewable energy – from hydro power to solar and wind, being exposed to the elements would allow the spa to be completely off-grid and encourage guests to assume a full digital detox.


Maunsell Forts, Kent, redesigned as a luxury glamping retreat


Rising from the water like rusty invaders, The Maunsell Forts are armed towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the Kent shoreline from German troops. They were operated as army and navy forts, made from a mixture of concrete and metal, standing approximately 30 feet – 78 feet tall.

Each fort consisted of a cluster of seven stilted buildings – one central command tower surrounded by six protective forts which, when operational, were interconnected by suspended walkways over the water.

Originally there were three of these forts, but only two are still left standing today: The Shivering Sands Fort and the Redsands Fort. Plans to preserve the forts in 2005 came to nothing, as did a proposal in 2015 to turn each into a luxury getaway, with the seven forts accommodating bars, restaurants, retail, banqueting rooms and rooftop terraces.

We decided to bring that luxury getaway concept to life in our own way, by reimagining the location as a glamping retreat. With views to die for and a remote location that is a necessity for every good camping trip, the forts would be accessed by a private boat that serves the retreat.


Air Raid Shelter, Inverclyde, Scotland, digitally reconstructed as a sustainable indoor farm


A relic of a dark time in history, the air raid shelter in Inverclyde is the UK’s largest purpose-built World War II shelter and acted as a safe haven for more than 1,000 people during the Nazi bombings.

The dark, rusty, labyrinth-like tunnels are built into the side of a cliff in Port Glasgow, and are now dirty, desolate and forgotten but would provide ample underground space to develop a sustainable indoor farm for growing local vegetation and produce. According to research, civil engineers are trying to solve the problem of increasing populations by building downwards rather than upwards, and installing agriculture into existing tunnels, mines and underground spaces is a good opportunity.

Indoor farming of this kind is usually done using hydroponics, aeroponics and container gardens, and requires an intensely controlled environment for artificial light, humidity, temperature and gases – which is why a structure like this air raid shelter would work well for producing local, energy-efficient and pesticide-free crops.

*Please note, this location is privately owned and inaccessible due to health & safety risk – these designs are purely for entertainment and inspiration purposes.


The Victoria Arches, Manchester, redesigned as modular tiny apartment


The Victoria Arches – also known as Cathedral Steps - are a series of bricked-up arches built in an embankment of the River Irwell in Manchester. In Victorian times, they served as business premises, and from 1895, landing stages for riverboats offering trips to Manchester Docks. In the Second World War they were used as air-raid shelters, accessed via wooden staircases that descended from Victoria Street.

With demand for city-centre homes still strong, it’s no surprise that smaller homes are becoming more and more popular. Modular housing has had a lot of attention this year which is why we conceptualised a modular apartment to make better use of the space. The staircase leads down into the main living area with secondary levels and a mezzanine-style bedroom accessible by a ladder. Due to the underground nature of the apartment, bright and light interior design aesthetics have been adopted to open up the space.



Please note, these concepts are for inspiration purposes only and are not proposals for redevelopment by Barratt Homes.

Keep an eye out for regeneration projects in your local area to see how historical spaces are rebuilt for modern society. Or if you’re looking to move home, don’t forget to read up on our Help to Buy and Part Exchange schemes.

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