The Obsolete as Opportunity

Melbourne CBD. Photo by Pejvak Samadani on Unsplash

Today, this first Monday in October, many workers in Australia return to their offices, virtually empty during the COVID period. Some organisations are allowing their workers to transition from working at home these last two years to working at the office three days and at home the other two. They are aware that many workers have adapted to working from home, that they enjoy the flexibility of mixing home life and work, and that in fact, productivity has increased – they just get more work done away from office distractions and travel to and from work.

But are we over the COVID Pandemic? Could it be that the rush back to work in the office has more to do with the threat that the massive investment in office space is threatened?

As our society progresses, certain infrastructure becomes obsolete. This can be a difficult transition for communities that have invested heavily in these buildings or amenities. However, adaption is key to ensuring that our infrastructure remains relevant and useful.

One example of this is the petrol driven car. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, many petrol stations will become redundant. This doesn’t mean that the buildings themselves will become useless though. With a little bit of creativity, they can be transformed into something new that meets the needs of the community. Converting petrol stations into a solar-powered EV charging stations and offering cafe facilities on site seems an obvious solution.

This shows that even when infrastructure becomes outdated, there are still ways to keep it relevant and useful.

So what about converting office towers into social housing? It’s an interesting idea, and one that is being explored in Melbourne, Australia. The Victorian State Government has announced a proposal to convert office buildings into housing for those in need.

This is a perfect example of adaption. By re-purposing existing infrastructure, we can create something that meets the needs of our community, without having to invest in new buildings.

What other examples of adaption can you think of? How could we make use of existing infrastructure to better meet the needs of our community?

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