Community Initiated Adaptive Reuse for Culture and the Arts: ‘The Tanks Arts Centre’ Cairns, Australia




Arts and Culture, Adaptive Reuse, Social Value, Aesthetic Value, Community initiated, Industrial Heritage, Urban Tropics, Cairns


A group of World War II naval fuel storage tanks strategically located in a tropical rainforest in Cairns, Australia, were adapted for arts and cultural purposes. This paper explores the adaptive reuse of this unusual industrial heritage site. It uses a case study approach to demonstrate how the social and aesthetic values of the place have been conserved and grown, and how these values have interacted to increase community attachment through a community-initiated approach to the site’s reuse. A scoping review and secondary data helped develop the case study and informed semi-structured interview questions for key industry stakeholders. The paper deduces that a community-led bottom-up approach to the reuse of space for arts and culture results in greater community attachment and, as opposed to top-down approaches, allows for continued growth in social and aesthetic value. Nevertheless, ongoing success of community initiatives in most cases is also reliant on the structure of a government-led administration.

Author Biography

Anthony Castles, James Cook University, Australia

Anthony Castles is a PhD candidate in society and culture at James Cook University. His research interests are in abandoned places, architecture, aesthetics, community, arts and culture. Anthony’s current research examines how places no longer useful for their original purpose can conserve and build new social and aesthetic values through reuse for arts and culture.


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How to Cite

Castles, A. (2020). Community Initiated Adaptive Reuse for Culture and the Arts: ‘The Tanks Arts Centre’ Cairns, Australia. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 19(2), 119–142.