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Ex-Silo: a new architecture icon

The symbol of sustainable vertical architecture of the city of Copenaghen is the Silo. The ex-industrial building was converted in 2017 into an urban anchor point for the Nordhavn district, historical port area of Copenhagen.
Currently, the area is the subject of an ambitious metropolitan development plan, designed by Cobe Architects, which envisions its expansion towards the sea of about 3.6 km2 and which boasts the title of the first certified DGNB1 Platinum urban area in Denmark.

The project consists in the construction of a dense archipelago of small urban islands, connected by pedestrian infrastructure and green corridors, and it is based on Cobe’s ambition to create a built environment that is durable, resilient and sustainable.

The Silo is a coherent expression of this approach that, marked by a great sensitivity towards environmental challenges, is based on the desire to protect both the architectural heritage and the urban identity.

Originally used for storing and treating grain, the ex-silo presented itself as a paradigm of the industrial heritage of the neighborhood.

After its decommissioning, the building was purchased by the entrepreneur Klaus Kastbjerg who – recognizing its strategic position on the sea, in that strip of land extending into the Øresund – in 2013 promoted its conversion, commissioning the design to Cobe2.

At first defined as a “concrete carcass” with Miesian proportions3 and perceived by the population as “industrial garbage”, today the building houses 38 luxurious residential units and is a precious activator and a unique landmark for the city.

In the project the historical traces of the district play a key role, and the aim to revitalize the industrial heritage turns into the opportunity to reveal new architectural potential.

Therefore, the structure of the factory is preserved. The leftover concrete is used for the realization of seatings and podiums and it is harmoniously integrated in the landscape surrounding the Silo, allowing the saving and the re-use of about 3.000 m3 of concrete, equivalent to 380 tons of CO2.

This sustainability strategy is implementedby the attention paid to the energy performance optimization of the building, which can be seen, for example, in the choice of façade cladding consisting of high precision prefabricated galvanized steel modules serving as a climate shield.

The façade does not modify the existing volume but wraps it in a sculptural surface that preserves its original character, its structure and material perception of “raw beauty”, a clear indicator of its industrial past.

Similar attention is paid to the treatment of internal surfaces, where columns and concrete walls are left bare and exposed, and to the preservation of the original spaces. The apartments adapt to the pre-existing structure and are completely different in shape and size, varying between 73 and 300 m2.

The symbol of sustainable vertical architecture of the city of Copenaghen is the Silo.

Spread over one or more levels, with heights of up to 8 m, the apartments are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, offering broad views of the city skyline and the sea.

Despite its intended use is mainly residential, the skyscraper also accommodates a triple-height event space on the ground floor and a restaurant on the top level that is the only addition to the pre-existing function, equipped with a panoramic platform with uninterrupted view.

The added and fully glazed unit blends perfectly with the sky in the daytime. On the other hand, at sunsets, the glass box is fully lit, thus becoming a distinctive landmark in the neighborhood.

The Silo, on the one hand, is strongly rooted in the historical and urban context of which it is a clear expression, on the other, it shows an innovative identity, promoting an approach aimed at progress and resilience in the purest sense.

1 Acronym of Deutsches Gütesiegel für Nachhaltiges Bauen, it is the sustainability certification system based on the principles promoted by the DGNB company / Acronimo di Deutsches Gütesiegel für Nachhaltiges Bauen, è il sistema di certificazione di sostenibilità basato sui principi promossi dalla società DGNB.

2 https://archello.com/project/the-silo (last access: October 20, 2022).

3 https://www.archdaily.com/874698/the-silo-cobe (last access: October 20, 2022).

Cobe

Work

The Silo

Client

Klaus Kastbjerg and NRE Denmark

Location

Nordhavn, Copenhagen

Project Year

2013-2017

Project Team

Balslev, Norconsult, Alectia, NRE Denmark

Size and total area

10.000 m²

Image credits

Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

author-img
Architect
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Head of Computational Design at Cobe

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