SUV- or camouflage-architecture? Behind the elaborate façade, you will find surprising spaces.

SUV-like on the outside, cathedral-like on the inside

​It’s easy to fall into the trap of only judging a building by its façade. Especially if it is as eye-catching as "Silo" in Copenhagen, designed by Cobe Architects.
by Adeline Seidel | 7/20/2017

The residential tower by Cobe Architects stands before you: tall, slender, forbidding. Its metal frontage is somehow as pugnacious as the appearance of a massive SUV or, given all the edges and bends, a stealth bomber. Nevertheless, this does not render the building invisible. On the contrary, while its neighbors are more low key, the new “Silo” gleams silver and self-confidently in the sun.

The 17-story building in Copenhagen’s new Nordhavn development zone was in fact once a grain silo. Its outer cladding was all concrete rather than metal, so it was always sealed off from the outside world. However, the new skin primarily seems forbidding from a pedestrian perspective – because the build seems so inaccessible basically only when viewed from below, with all the protruding balconies and the edges of the façade creating such a visually dense appearance. That first impression is deceiving. Especially as one can assume that at prices of between 530,000 and 4.3 million Euros per apartment (there are a total of 38 sized between 100 and 400 square meters) the interiors must surely be suffused with light and decidedly spacious. 

"The Silo" before the conversion 2013.
The new façade is attached on the old concrete one.

Indeed, what is truly impressive about this new converted tower can first be experienced from behind the attention-seeking façade. Cobe Architects took as their premise that the existing core should be retained and changed as little as possible. The result: at times almost cathedral-like living quarters made of fair-faced concrete with ceilings up to seven meters high – giving the notion of a “loft” a completely new meaning. The apartments are illuminated by large slits cut into the former outer skin of the silo. 

One remarkable detail in particular catches the eye when you look outwards: Seen thus, the floor-to-ceiling windows have no frames. It would seem as if the glass surfaces simply snuggle up to the concrete, as the frame is hidden in the elements of the silver façade attached to the concrete skin. This clever and interesting detail is just one that cannot be seen from the outside. By way of recompense for the “outsiders”: You can head for the restaurant on the roof of the silo and simply enjoy the view of Copenhagen during your meal.