The latest news on New York architecture.

  • Redefining an industrial danish silo and turning it into an apartment building

    Jennifer Whelan reports for Archdaily: COBE’s Adaptive Reuse of Nordhavnen Silo Marks Beginning of Redevelopment.

    Danish firm COBE is transforming the largest industrial building in Nordhavnen – a silo – into an apartment building with both private and public functions. For COBE, who also created the urban development plans for Nordhavnen, this project marks the beginning of the post-industrial area’s future. Nordhavnen is a harbor area located only 4km from Copenhagen‘s city centre.

    “The exciting thing about old industrial property is how to preserve their soul and at the same time use them for something else,” said Klaus Kastbjerg, the owner of the silo, commenting on the adaptive reuse project. To preserve the soul of the silo, the architects will maintain a raw industrial feeling on the interior. Each of the 40 retrofitted apartments will contain visible historic remnants such as existing concrete columns and walls.

    The spatial variation within the silo is immense due to the various functions of storing and handling grain, giving rise to a unique set of apartments. The single and multi-leveled apartments range from 80 square meters to 800 square meters in size, with floor heights soaring up to 8 meters. Each apartment has large panoramic views with balconies overlooking the city skyline. The public element of the building lies in both the ground and top floors, creating a multidimensional experience for users. The silo will be used for public purposes such as exhibitions, events, and conferences. On the top floor of the building there will be a restaurant with 360 degree views of almost all of Copenhagen.

    While the building interior will be preserved as much as possible, the exterior will be re-cladded in order to bring the facade up to current standards. Despite this major change, the maintenance of the building’s slender, tall shape serves to preserve the existing silo’s distinctive character and redefine it as a modern landmark. For more images of the project click here.  

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  • The Westminster Arcade is now filled with micro apartments

    Chris Berger reports for Curbed: America's First Shopping Mall is Now Stuffed With Micro Homes.

    In 2008, Rhode Island's Providence Arcade was in trouble. Considered America's first indoor mall, the nearly 200-year-old downtown building closed after struggling to fill its cramped commercial spaces. The arcade needed an overhaul, but few viable options existed: when the possibility of a gut job arose, preservationists raised holy hell. In the end, the shopping center and its snug quarters proved just the right fit for a growing housing trend: micro apartments.

    Known as Westminster Arcade when it opened in 1828, the building marked the debut of English indoor shopping concept in the United States. Designed by architects Russell Warren and James Bucklin, the Greek Revival stone structure more resembles a courthouse than a shopping mall, what with its stately Ionic columns and sunlight-filled atrium with its glass gable roof. Shoppers browsed three floors of shops—or at least that was the idea; they never seemed willing to trudge up the stairs to the second and third floors.

    The mall was nearly razed in 1944, but preservationists intervened, and it was spared. In 1976, the arcade was designated a National Historic Landmark, though businesses struggled. Even its 1980 renovation didn't help much, and it ultimately closed in 2008. "It had become economically obsolete," said J. Michael Abbott, a principal at Northeast Collaborative Architects. "When it was a full shopping center of all three floors, it just wasn't working. Shops were opening and closing all the time."

     

    Oft smaller than a hotel room, micro apartments have grown in popularity in recent years as more people cram into urban areas and housing prices escalate. The concept first gained popularity in European and Asian cities before projects popped up in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston during the Great Recession. And so, developer Evan Granoff, who bought the Westminster Arcade in 2005, sought to introduce shoebox living to Providence. The construction practices of yore proved a challenge for the rehabilitation team, led by Northeast Collaborative Architects.

    "They just laid down some flat rocks and started building on top of those—that was the foundation," Abbott said. "The building has settled over time. We call that 'character.'" As a result, the walls had to be shored up, and custom doors and windows were created to fit the uneven contours. The well-worn wood floors and lacelike iron balustrades were left in place. Work on the $7M project wrapped in October 2013. Granoff retained the retail spaces on the ground floor and rented them to retail busineses.

    These commercial spaces are enclosed by bay windows so sound doesn't drift to the residences above. Inspired by ship construction, each of the 38 rental units—which measure from 225 to 300 square feet—includes a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and built-in storage. The homes on the second floor even have guest accommodations in the form of a twin Murphy bed. The Providence Arcade also contains eight larger apartments, a game room, storage spaces, and laundry machine.

    Micro apartments are not for everyone—in fact, their clientele are "young kinds that just graduated." They "are at the bottom-end of the totem pole and don't have that dining room set that grandma gave them," Abbott said. "They travel really light. They might have a bike and two suitcases." The Providence Arcade's dwellings have also attracted keepers of the shops downstairs as well as second homeowners seeking a place to stay when they're in town. Rent starts at $550 a month, but future residents better get in line—there is already a waitlist.  

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