Poudrière community HUB | Adaptive reuse of STP Grain Silos

This project is an adaptive re-use of the abandoned STP grain silos. By repurposing this existing building, we preserve what’s best about this place and develop it in a way that is more modern and usable. In fact, creating new functions and a well-established connection to the surroundings may bring life to the area and make it more dynamic and lively than before
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Designer(s) : Mhamed Alila

University : ESAD (École Supérieure d’Architecture d’Audiovisuel et du Design)

Tutor(s) : Professor Kadhem Mankai

The thesis aimed to investigate the urban metamorphosis of industrial parks in the Mediterranean region and how the Adaptive reuse of industrial complexes participates in the redevelopment of the urban context and its surrounding areas. Sfax, a Mediterranean city, located on the east coast of Tunisia, is considered the beating heart of the Tunisian economy with its industrial port and a variety of industries such as phosphate processing, textile, and agri-food industry…
“Poudrière” is quite close to the city centre and very well connected to the suburbs. It is bordered by the new Taparura suburb (a land built on the sea). In 1960, the first industries to settle were dealt with phosphate processing and textile. Nowadays, the 150 hectares of the industrial park is facing many issues due to pollution and urban sprawl. A dozen industrial complexes were abandoned and left to decay. They became eligible to be adaptively reused and transformed.

The ongoing discussions between Sfax local authorities and the social community aim to develop a framework for adaptive reuse and urban regeneration of existing industrial complexes in Poudirère industrial Park. The municipality is already proposing a development plan for the area. The goal is to transform the zone into a vibrant mixed-use suburb complementary to the city centre and achieve an environmentally and socially sustainable lifestyle in the new “Poudrière”.

Our idea was to create The “Poudière” Community Hub to encourage interactions, innovations and exchange in Sfax city. The grain silos will become a living station for professionals, artists and administrators to create, innovate and share their ideas. Citizens are also involved by expressing their opinions and participating in the decision-making process.

“Poudrière  Community Hub” will be a landmark for the future and a model for tomorrow’s interventions in “Poudrière” industrial park. To better serve that purpose, the sliced parts were reshaped in contrast to the existent form of the grain silos. The new volume hosts the main central hall which interacts with the rest of the hub spaces.  The new program includes a mix of office space, focusing on technology, research and development, digital fabrication spaces, and an urban laboratory…

The entrance of the central hall is the most significant space in the project. This works not only as a transition area between the hub spaces but also as a place for exhibitions,  showcasing cultural and artistic productions. Close to the public entry, the multi-purpose space, and the coffee shop interact with the central hall and the exterior, their activities could be extended to the urban plaza through divided panels placed in the northwest façade. We placed the three-story coworking space and the fabrication laboratory which includes rentable office spaces, meeting rooms, and machinery areas. The upper level offers a small auditorium that can host up to 300 individuals, and is used for cultural events, conferences, and other similar activities. In the living lab, citizens can experience a connection to a network of local projects through workshops, seminars, and presentations.

Materials and Technical Aspects

To achieve our specific intention of conveying decay/rust over time, we used perforated corten metal panels [C]  as a sustainable double skin in the North-west façade.  to get the required thermal comfort and reduce energy consumption in the building.

Second, we maintain the significant industrial building frame [A]. Existing steel trusses will be preserved and restored, while the masonry walls are to be demolished.

Third,  the existing steel trusses were designed to cover and protect the grain storage. For that reason, we juxtaposed a new steel structure [B] to support the new platform loads, required for the new activities.

Finally, Due to the damage caused by moisture, roofs  [D] will be replaced with corten insulated metal panels.  The new skylight openings will provide the new platforms with more natural light.