How to Retro­fit a Silo


Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _David Sokol PHO­TOGRAPHS _Ras­mus Hjortshøj

Dan­ish ar­chi­tect Dan Stub­ber­gaard

has a pen­chant for the un­mit­i­gated ra­tio­nal­ism of old in­dus­trial build­ings. So, when his firm, COBE, was plan­ning the re­de­vel­op­ment of Copen­hagen’s Nord­havn wa­ter­front dis­trict into a mixed-use neigh­bour­hood in the late 2000s, Stub­ber­gaard cam­paigned to keep a for­mer grain silo in the master plan. He also hoped to pre­serve the mon­u­men­tal char­ac­ter of the struc­ture by as­sign­ing it a cul­tural func­tion that re­quired lit­tle re­vi­sion to the “pure con­crete can­vas” of its fa­cade. The own­ers of the 17-storey tower, Klaus Kast­b­jerg and NRE Den­mark A/S, had a more toned-down vi­sion in mind: To con­vert the gi­ant con­tainer into 38 lux­ury apart­ments rang­ing from 106 to 402 square me­tres. To ac­com­plish this, the com­pany needed to trans­form the build­ing’s ar­row-slit-like fen­es­tra­tion into panoramic win­dows con­nect­ing to bal­conies. Charged with the adap­tive reuse of the silo, COBE con­ceived an over­cladding for the con­crete that ac­com­mo­dated the new pro­gram with­out sac­ri­fic­ing vis­ual uni­for­mity. “We had al­ways en­vi­sioned re-fac­ing the silo,” Stub­ber­gaard says, be­cause re­gard­less of the pro­gram cho­sen, the un­sheathed build­ing would have re­quired in­su­la­tion. Com­pro­mised por­tions of ex­te­rior-fac­ing con­crete also re­quired pro­tec­tion from weather con­di­tions, which in­clude whip­ping winds unique to Nord­havn. Col­lab­o­rat­ing with the fab­ri­ca­tors at Skan­di­naviska Glassys­tem, COBE de­vised a pre­fab­ri­cated ex­oskele­ton that in­te­grates those so­lu­tions, plus res­i­den­tial func­tion­al­ity, into sin­gle sheets of gal­va­nized steel. The cara­pace is di­vided into mo­d­ules mounted to each floor of the silo. A typ­i­cal mod­ule frames a triple-glazed win­dow and seam­lessly folds out­ward to form a bal­cony; the ma­te­rial then folds back to­ward the silo in tri­an­gu­lar shapes that add crys­talline tex­ture to the new fa­cade. Each tri­an­gle is con­fig­ured to pro­tect bal­cony oc­cu­pants from wind and the harsh­est sun an­gles, though laser-cut per­fo­ra­tions in the gal­va­nized steel pre­vent the faceted over­cladding from seem­ing too shield-like. “You can still ex­pe­ri­ence the light and wa­ter and the view, you have that vis­ual con­nec­tion,” Stub­ber­gaard says. The lit­tle voids are also nec­es­sary for con­vey­ing ven­ti­la­tion ex­haust from the res­i­dences. Mean­while, in­su­lated foam pan­els rest against the silo in­side the mo­d­ules’ depth di­men­sion. “You could have put much more weight on the struc­ture, but it would have been wrong to cover the build­ing in another layer of con­crete pan­els; I like hav­ing the con­crete paired to some­thing much more light,” re­flects Stub­ber­gaard, adding, “As long as you man­age to be su­per­pre­cise in the de­tail­ing, you can wrap the build­ing with a mono­lithic ap­pear­ance again.”

OP­PO­SITE AND TOP RIGHT: A pre­fab ar­mour made from sheets of gal­va­nized steel is durable against fierce winds and main­tains the in­dus­trial aes­thetic of the neigh­bour­hood. RIGHT: Cut-outs in the orig­i­nal con­crete silo give res­i­dents sweep­ing views of the...

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