The adaptive reuse of industrial structures: Revisiting the Thesen Islands power station project in South Africa

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the feasibility of the adaptive reuse of a particular case study, and the evaluation of it within the context of international research done on similar projects. It aims to highlight the reuse potential of industrial structures by private developers, and the financial, environmental and social advantages that they could hold. Design/methodology/approach: A literature review that explores these themes is followed by the post-occupancy analysis of the case study. Data were gathered primarily through interviews with key role players in the project, site visits and an analysis of the relevant project documentation. Findings: While there are a number of international examples of the reuse of power stations in particular, these are mostly on a large scale, dependent mostly on government funding, lottery funding and donations and generally stripped of most of their machinery. The case study is a smaller-scale example which demonstrates that a project of this nature can be entirely funded by a private developer, that it can be sustainable and that it can be done while keeping most of the original machinery in place. The case study confirms a number of findings that are revealed in current research in the field, and it also shows the relative advantages of adaptive reuse when compared to new-build projects. Research limitations/implications: There is fairly limited information and published research about adaptive reuse, especially in South Africa, so the paper builds on international knowledge on the subject while exposing a suitable local example. It is hoped that the study will not only lead to further research and post-occupancy analysis of similar projects in South Africa in particular, but also support international research that indicates the feasibility of adaptive reuse. Originality/value: The Thesen Islands power station (or the Turbine Hotel as it is now known) could potentially be used as a precedent for similar redevelopments, and it could shed some light on the opportunities and constraints related to the management of fixed engineering assets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-940
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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