The Northern Harbour of Copenhagen is transitioning from industry to city. Former factories, loading piers and port terminals become vacant while waiting for development to catch up. The Unionkul Project is introducing a new temporary building typology to inhabit these vacant lots during this transition.
Built from worn-out shipping containers, it is an office building made to be moved.
Arcgency is a Copenhagen office dedicated to Resource Conscious Architecture.
Based on knowledge gained from research and projects on how to assemble and disassemble buildings Arcgency developed an architectural concept that is easily moveable while still offering the qualities of permanent buildings. More than that, it is an experiment in pre-fab architecture that challenges universal waste issues and traditional building techniques; How do we minimize energy usage while adapting to the rough and dynamic Scandinavian climate? How do we implement a high level of flexibility and functionality in the creation of ideal workspaces for creative entrepreneurs? How do we create a sustainable design that prioritizes diverse and interesting spaces with great visual quality and daylight conditions? How do we make a building move?
How it is done
Worn-out shipping containers are stacked three stories high on a series of minimal site impact pillars.
The container is a super optimized product, refined to be cost-effective, strong and durable. It fits international transportations standards and can be shipped and set up anywhere, enabling us to practice direct reuse. If a new building component with the same specifications were to be designed, it would be both expensive and time consuming.
The span between the containers is utilized as flexible spaces for primary workspace functions. The interiors of the containers can be used for secondary functions such as meeting rooms, workshops and storage. The raw container structure is set up in just two days.
The container stack is wrapped with high performing insulated sandwich panels, also functioning as vapour barrier and cladding. They are bolted directly into the container frame - as are the windows, roof elements and interior floor slabs.
Visible installations are used for water, electricity and heating, making it easy to set up and take down.
The architecture is based on at simple set of principles: Raw aesthetics, differentiated spatial sizes, layers of visual connections through the building and great daylight conditions.
The look and feel of the interior surfaces and structure is dictated by the shipping containers. The 10-14 rough years at sea has left their mark on the containers. As a building component they are given an afterlife and their dents and imperfections are acknowledged as part of the architecture. Except for a matte grey coating the containers are kept in their original states; Functioning doors, original floor and corrugated surfaces. The coating creates a uniform look and enhances the structural detailing.
From the 40 feet long spaces inside the containers to the triple high spaces between them; the different spatial experiences and scales invite to different uses. Especially the larger spaces open up to a variety of possibilities and visual connections through the building. Views of the exterior are always present; even across the building. This creates depth, perspective and a feeling of connectivity in the house. Different levels and large interior windows make it possible to create the feeling of working in a collaborative atmosphere. The teams inhabiting different parts of the building can feel connected while at the same time not disturbing each other.
Large full height openings let natural light pierce deep into the building all through the day. The need for artificial light is minimized. The daylight adds detail to the interior as shadows play across the corrugated container walls. It leads you through narrow spaces to the open plans and draws your eye across different levels and through the building. The triple high space lets light in from all four corners of the world. As a result all levels are given varied mixed light without the need for windows in all four facades. This is crucial to prevent overheating and eliminate the need for air-conditioning. The ceilings in the large spaces are cladded with perforated aluminium that reflect light from the waterfront. An acoustic absorbent is placed above the perforated surface, creating a perfect acoustic environment.