Recycled spaces: breathing new life into outdated structures

Sustainability in design is not limited to the eco-consciousness of the materials used in construction, but also includes the space that the structure is erected upon. As guests seek out increasingly novel hotel experiences to enhance their stay, we take a look at some of the striking hotel designs that repurpose existing spaces to create innovative guest experiences.

Image credit Maria Andersson

Sala Silvermine


Situated 155m below the Swedish town of Sala is one of the world’s deepest underground hotel suites. For centuries, the location was home to one of the country’s largest silver mines, but now guests can pay to spend the night in an excavated chamber, which has been transformed into a novel subterranean hotel room. The standalone suite is fitted with a plush double bed and silver furnishings, which incorporate the iconic history of the mine into the design.

Seaventures Dive Rig


Until 1985, Seaventures Dive Rig was used by the oil and gas industry for oil rigs in a variety of locations. After the rig was decommissioned, it was revived as a hotel that embraced eco-tourism because the structure could be constructed in the middle of the ocean without damaging marine wildlife. While the rooms are notably more comfortable, the structure maintains the unique characteristics of a working rig and has become a hotspot for divers.

Image credit Nichon Glerum

Crane Hotel Faralda


Hidden inside a former industrial crane in the heart of Amsterdam’s famous NDSM quarter is an exclusive luxury hotel comprised of three aesthetically distinctive suites, a panoramic lounge and spa pool. From the 50m-high crane, guests have a unique view of the surrounding area, which changes as the hotel’s wind vane mode allows the crane to gently turn in the wind.


New Zealand

Designed by project founder Stuart Wright-Stow and F3, SiloStay puts environmental sustainability at the heart of the complex. Modified grain silos make up the exterior of each two-storey guest suite, with eight single units and one accessible/family unit specially designed to make the most of the industrial structure. A custom-made energy silo, which houses a gravity fed wood pellet boiler heats the complex, reducing the environmental impact of the hotel.

Spitbank Fort


This luxury island retreat is one of the three historic man-made forts located in the Solent. Originally built in 1861 to address the threat of a French invasion, the structure was discarded by the UK Ministry of Defence in 1982. Now owned by Amazing Venues, the revamped monument has been transformed into a luxury spa hotel, complete with nine bedroom suites, as well as a series of intimate lounges, bars and terraces that are designed to complement the dramatic architecture and incorporate the fort’s history.

Image credit: Liberty Hotel

The Liberty Hotel


This infamous former jail was constructed in 1851 under plans by notable Boston architect Gridley James Fox Bryant. After it was officially closed in the early 1990s, Cambridge Seven Associates and preservation architect Ann Beha Architects transformed the historic landmark into a luxury hotel with 298 rooms and suites. The new design retained much of the building's historic structure, including the jail’s granite exterior, preserved jail cells and its famed rotunda, while the interior design infuses a contemporary aesthetic with the quintessential characteristics of the building.

Image credit: Atkins

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland Hotel 


Designed by JADE + QA, the Quarry Hotel is the first of its kind – a hotel constructed to slot neatly into the side of a disused 90m-deep quarry. Although the entire structure is 18 levels, only two storeys rise above ground level, which means that the structure fits seamlessly into the surrounding area without damaging the ecological environment around it. Consequently, the imaginative structure achieved ‘groundscraper’ status.