The Silo

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One person’s trash is
another person’s

Year: Commissioned 2013, completed 2017

Client: Klaus Kastbjerg and NRE Denmark

Program: Former grain silo transformed into residential complex and public facilities

Size: 10,000 m²

The 17-storey former grain silo is a natural point of orientation in Copenhagen’s new neigbourhood Nordhavn. The spatial variation within the original silo is immense due to the various functions of storing and handling grain, creating space for 39 unique apartments. Single and multi-level apartments range from 73 m² to 305 m² in size with floor heights of up to 7 meters. Both the top and lower levels have public access, to ensure a multi-dimensional experience for the various users of the building. The Silo is inhabited, but also a destination. An urban focal point for the redeveloped Nordhavn area.

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The 17-storey former grain silo is the largest industrial building in the Nordhavn and has been used for storing and treating grain for decades.

In a time of resource scarcity it is important to be bold and ask the question: “Is a newbuild even necessary in this case?”

as resource
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The industrial buildings and structures of Nordhavn have played a key role in defining the identity of the harbour. By retaining the identity and repurposing the existing concrete structures, we were able to preserve the area’s heritage.

In The Silo, 2,740 m³ of concrete were reused, the equivalent of more than 500 tons of embodied CO₂e. Leftover concrete from windows, decks and doors has been reused to make seating and podiums in the landscape surrounding the building.

From storage container
to urban anchor point
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The first step in the process is to test the building by transforming the ground floor into a public exhibition gallery.

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What makes the Silo so unique and beautiful is its monolithic appearance, stemming from the materiality and tactility of its construction.

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We wanted to retain the spirit of The Silo as much as possible – both in terms of its monolithic exterior and majestic concrete interior, by simply draping it with a new overcoat. The aim was to transform it from the inside out in such a way that its new inhabitants and the surrounding urban life would highlight the struc­ture’s identity and heritage. Hence, the use of galvanized steel for the facade, which patinates in a raw way and retains the original harbour character and material feel, lending a roughness and raw beauty to the area, as in its industrial past.

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The new façade was designed to relate to the original concrete structure and thus retain a clear continuity between new and old. A layer of insulation was added to the exterior to serve as the new building envelope.

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The façade of The Silo is constructed of high-precision prefabricated 3D modules, creating an efficient sculptural “overcoat”.

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Inside-out facade
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Existing silhouette, existing program, creating an icon.

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New program: Every flat is unique, and the public ground floor acts as an urban activator.

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Public add-on: Panorama view, new skin and façade update, new urban silo.

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The Silo’s amazing concrete spaces have been transformed into 39 unique apartments. The cut concrete becomes a characteristic detail in the interior of the apartments.

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The “hat” on top of the building is designed as a generous public restaurant and viewing platform. The glass façade mirrors the surroundings during the daytime, almost vanishing into the sky.

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The Silo was featured in the American animated TV series “The Simpsons”, making it an international icon.

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Client: Klaus Kastbjerg and NRE Denmark

Program: Former grain silo transformed into residential complex and public facilities

Size: 10,000 m²

Year: Commissioned 2013, completed 2017

Collaborators: Balslev, Norconsult, Alectia, NRE Denmark

Awards: Foreningen Hovedstadens Forskønnelse 2017, Copenhagen Award 2018 – Best Transformation Project, MIPIM Awards 2018 Finalist – Best Refurbished Building, CTBUH Awards 2018 – Best Tall Building Europe, AZ Awards 2018 – Best Residential Architecture, Global Galvanizers Award 2018, RENOVER Prisen 2018, Architizer Project of the Year 2018 A+Award, EU Mies Award 2019 Nominee, Civic Trust Awards 2019

Team: Adam Wicherek, Alexander Ejsing, Andrea Di Pompeo, Anis Souissi, Antonia Szabo, Bart Smets, Caroline Henke, Caroline Nagel, Claes Nilsson, Dan Stubbergaard, Eik Bjerregaard, Elin Parry, Emil Scharnweber, Emre Senoglu, Greta Tiedje, Iben Marie Borbye Pedersen, Jacob Lantow, Javier Hernani, Jens Kert Wagner, Johanne Holmsberg, Kaisa Lillemets, Liv Moodie, Mads Knak-Nielsen, Matti Hein Nørgaard, Milan Milenkovski, Milda Naujalyte, Morten Andersen, Navid Christensen, Nika Koraca, Peter Laust Røhr Hønnicke, Rune Boserup, Sune Mogensen, Ted Schaumann.

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Image credits: Please note that we have used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement.