Silo House brings entrepreneurial ambition to historic downtown. 1955 grain-solo rehab redefines standards of ‘home’ at an affordable cost.
Nestled in the Garfield Historic District of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, this contemporary rehabilitation of a dismantled 1955 grain silo is challenging conventions of what ‘home’ is. Not only did design architect Christoph Kaiser of Christoph Kaiser LLC develop the concept and design, he also personally funded the project, demonstrating the potentials of urban renewal and “upcycling”.
When Christoph discovered a Kansas farmer’s dismantled silo for sale on the internet, the dream of creating an ultra compact yet comfortable living environment with inexpensive and untapped resources was born. Assembling a found ‘kit of parts’ small enough to be transported in the back of a pickup truck that would result in a comfortable, modern and unique home was a very appealing design challenge from a sustainability and economic point of view. The transformation of the agricultural silo into an urban dwelling was finished in late 2013.
The main objective of the Silo House was to capture the esteemed sentiments and functions of the typical home in a radically different, radically smaller configuration. Working with only a 190 square-foot, circular footprint, the Silo House program is a comfortable, one to two person home that targets market demands for affordable, modern living space. The design itself is conceived as the marriage of two different but complementary parts: exterior shell and interior object.
The silo’s exterior, preserved in white, pays homage to the rural and agricultural spirit of the great American landscapes, and also serves to reflect the intense desert sun. The large, warm, monolithic wood and steel ‘machine for living’ that sits within the silo, reads almost as one large piece of furniture, and efficiently accommodates all human ‘dwelling needs’. An operable oculus located at the top of the silo allows for passive ventilation of the interior space.
Two aspects of the surrounding neighborhood context played crucial roles in the design strategy of the project. Firstly, the degenerate state of the surrounding homes and alleyway in this downtown core neighborhood required an insular design approach. Strategically framed views of the Phoenix skyline are provided within an otherwise enclosed exterior garden that acts as a natural, private buffer to the contrasting neighborhood context. Secondly, addressing both the rich historical context and current blight of Garfield Historic District was a consideration that required a balance of reverence and boldness respectively.
The project was graciously accepted by City of Phoenix Historic Preservation with an appreciation of how projects such as this can act as a catalyst for entire community rehabilitation. Silo House explores the relationship between a home’s efficient use of space and its ability to bring delight, wonder, and inspiration to those occupying that space by using design as a catalyst to spark the imagination, while allowing economic reality to bring the project to fruition.
“It was love at first sight: an affordable, challenging prospect,” explains Christoph Kaiser, owner of Christoph Kaiser LLC. “The thought of assembling a kit of parts that fits in the bed of truck, and ending up with a home for two was a tantalizing challenge, very appealing from a carbon-footprint, sustainability, and, shall we say, ‘architectural rigor’ standpoint.”
About Christoph Kaiser LLC: Christoph Kaiser LLC, founded in 2010, is an architectural design firm focused on delivering sustainable architecture on all scales – from architecture and urban contextualization to custom design systems for interior environments, Christoph specializes in total design solutions.Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Architect: Christoph Kaiser LLC
Photographer: Mark Lipczynski