A whole new life was given to the area of Toppilansalmi in Oulu, Finland as the mid-century cylindrical grain silos, the landmark structure of the area, was transformed into a contemporary residential building.
The nature of the project changed early on as most of the old structures had to be dismantled due to their poor condition. As stipulated by the town plan, as much of the original outer silo aesthetic as possible was recreated. This reimagining allowed for a vast variety of layouts within; from smart one-bedroom flats to neo-lofts up to three level lofts can be found within the building with a total of 95 apartments.
The round silo structures became utilized as varyingly sized balcony zones. The balcony openings are enhanced with metal trelliswork that maintain the round shape of the silos while providing sufficient privacy. The trelliswork blocks part of the direct sunlight yet is still sparse enough to let light pass and allow views through to the landscape. Together with varying zones of glazed and open, low and full-height, the balconies are vastly multifunctional, true extensions of the apartments.
A mainly rectangular dark extension expands the silo structure naturally within the reimagined plot. At the top, a joint use sauna and roof terrace can be found. The extension’s contemporary facade was executed with reflective black and grey facade glass with subtle coloured jetties providing structure and relating to the elements of the courtyard.
The courtyard offers intriguing views inside the structure and its colourful fire escape and refined, contrasting materials around create a truly memorable space. Here, the dialogue of the building masses representative of three different eras is in full display.
The first two floors out of thirteen consist of neo-lofts with galleries, with spacious, five-meter-high open living spaces. The galleries were designed efficient and practical, and are mainly in bedroom use. This allowed for the top seven floor apartments to have open height of 3,2 meters.
Throughout the building, the large sweeping expanses of windows allow plenty of light to enter the apartments. As the glass starts from the floor level, the floors receive most of the light and reflect it further into the structure. The windows and glazed surfaces were designed in close cooperation with a manufacturer with similar interests to create something new and unique allowing as unobstructed views as possible yet practicality through-out.
In keeping with the original industrial atmosphere of the area, the raw, in-situ cast concrete surfaces are a vivid element throughout the interior of the building. The corridors’ industrial design combined with contemporary solutions and materials creates a unique, hotel-like feel.
The possibility of purchasing an apartment in a semi-finished state proved also popular. This gave the owners greater freedom in defining the final layout, fixtures and finishes of their new home.
The Tervahovi Silos stand as a fine example of smart reimagining of an area of cultural importance without losing its core character. In a broader perspective, the solutions keep the history, the architecture, alive and interesting while providing an intriguing vision for a way to develop more satisfying architecture in the future.