September 26 2012

From Industrial Silos to Residences: The Gemini Building and Wennberg Silo

Wennberg Silo

Islands Brygge industrialised waterfront in the 90′s. Located nearby nowadays Copenhagen Harbour Bath

Automation, market variations, and strict ecological legislation push dysfunctional factories on the verge of extinction. Yet, the heavy industrial remains hardly disappear from the urban skyline. The Danish Soy Cake Factory, once the economic engine of the capital, used to employ 1,200 people until the 80′s.

Rescue, revalue, and remember. Meanwhile, massive population overflows extended the residential footprint over the other side of the canal flooding the ex-industrial sites with blooming high-rise housing projects. Gigantic concrete structures, hundred year-old silos patronized the waterline.  Erasing the site’s industrial identity would have been an endless dissembling and disposing process, a financial and environmental hazard.  Luckily, time limitations spawned creative solutions and conserved a sense of identity. The silos’ core has been kept intact, while architects and engineers literally balanced the contrast between the fresh design lines and the old silhouettes.

Rethink, reshape, reuse. The bare concrete skeletons needed the right architectural make-up. Their impressive heights projected a splendid city panorama, while their location offered a close-up of the canal activities. On a macro scale, the crucial focus was bridging the evolutionary stages of the initial construction.  Insulating externally might blur the industrial texture or shape, while internal insulation would decrease the indoor area. Respecting the rounded lines of the walls has been just as debatable. Finally, fairly contrasting features coexist in harmony and assure a responsible land use.

The Gemini building hosts eighty-four dwellings. MVRDV, together with JJW architects, implemented an ambitious “inside-out” design approach. Given the wide vistas of the site, the apartments are totally exposed since they were chosen to be hung on the exterior of the cylindrical structures and covered in transparent climate screen facades. The silos’ wide diameter of twenty-five meters hosts a spectacular atrium roofed with translucent plastic. Contemporary architecture thrones higher than the street level, while at the base, the industrial concrete nakedness stands proof against shifting times.

Wennberg Silo

The Wennberg Silo has been refurbished by Take Lyneborg Architects covering one hundred forty-two apartments with a common roof-top garden of the thirteenth level. The layout respects the initial contours of the silos, while bay windows open up the view.

Wennberg Silo

The old paved walkways connect the busy quarters of the city with the first pedestrian/cycling bridge over the canal. The contrasts blend in and the renewed “old” is fully appreciated for it’s value.

Where is the limit between financing the rehabilitation process and erasing the old structures?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Denisa Petrus

Denisa Petrus, following a Constructing Architect Bachelors Degree at VIA University, in Denmark, recently graduated after completing her final project at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. Her international educational background and practice as project architect in Dublin helped her gain a expanded perspective over the streamlining process from design to construction. She aims to further develop her commitment to the sustainability paradigm by starting a Master in Sustainable Architecture degree in the near future. Currently settled in Copenhagen, Denmark, a genuinely environmentally-conscious city, Denisa is constantly inspired by its` vitality and pragmatic approach. Her blogs sketch and summarize the Scandinavian urban experience, a symbiosis between contexts and behavior, esthetics and technology.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 at 6:34 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Housing, Land Use, Social/Demographics, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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