Silo House / Kaiserworks

Text description provided by the architects. Nestled in the Garfield Historic District of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, this contemporary rehabilitation of a 1955 grain silo challenges conventions of what ‘home’ is. Principal and Owner of Phoenix-based architecture office Kaiserworks not only developed the concept and design but also personally funded and built the project. The project sought to investigate tenants of “home,” as a sequel to a graduate master’s thesis called “The MetaUrban” that Kaiser presented at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Silo House / Kaiserworks - Interior Photography, Windows, Table, Chair

The primary design objective of the Silo House was to capture the esteemed tenets of ‘home’ in a form and configuration radically different than existing typologies. With only a 230-square-foot footprint, the Silo House, in its final form, provides a comfortable home for a single person or couple. Tectonically, the design is conceived as the marriage of two complementary parts: exterior shell and interior object.

Silo House / Kaiserworks - Interior Photography, Chair, Door, Brick, Facade

The corrugated exterior skin of the silo pays homage to the rural and agricultural spirit of the American landscape, now painted white to reflect the intense desert sun. Inside, the large, warm, monolithic wood and steel ‘machine for living’ reads almost like one large piece of furniture, efficiently accommodating all needed creature comforts while maintaining distinction from the interior drywall shell. An operable oculus at the top of the silo allows for passive ventilation of the interior space.

Silo House / Kaiserworks - Interior Photography, Windows
Silo House / Kaiserworks - Interior Photography, Dining room, Table, Chair, Windows
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Two key aspects of the surrounding urban context influenced the Silo’s design strategy. First, the blighted condition of this downtown Phoenix neighborhood necessitated an insular approach, resulting in an exterior garden encircling the silo. This private garden features momentary, framed views of the Phoenix skyline, emphasizing the connection to the larger urban environment. Second, the rich historical context of the Garfield neighborhood, despite its current blighted state, was addressed with a balance of reverence and boldness. The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation praised the project for evoking a bygone era while signaling future growth and investment in the area.

Silo House / Kaiserworks - Interior Photography, Windows, Chair, Brick, Facade

Internally, the Silo House explores the relationship between a home’s efficient use of space and its ability to bring delight, wonder, and inspiration to its occupants. By wrapping the Silo’s exterior walls with a perimeter of utilities and an “opaque program” as Kaiser refers to it, the Silo can yield a double-height interior volume that feels celebratory. “When designing small spaces, moments of generosity, and sometimes extreme generosity are required to offset the efficiency –  hopefully with wonder.” 

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Kaiserworks is a Phoenix-based architecture and design studio with a reputation for holistic building and product design. The firm is passionate about creating elegant solutions to relevant problems and seeks to approach each project with the same optimism and rigor of invention that existed in mid-century American design culture.

Silo House / Kaiserworks - Image 12 of 23

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