Today, a fascinating, forward-thinking adaptive reuse housing concept revolving around the planet’s dwindling supply of fossil fuels is sure to appeal to those of you who can't quite get down with the idea of living several miles out to sea on a decommissioned oil rig.
The Oil Silo Home was conceived by Sarah Roberts, Eric Tan, Leon Lai and Nico Schlapps of always-audacious Copenhagen-based design collective PinkCloud.dk as an entrant in the 2011 Dow Solar’s 2011 Design to Zero housing competition. Essentially, it's a solar-powered spherical abode specifically designed for the post-oil world — this is, when the planet reaches peak oil (bound to happen sometime, folks) and the roughly 49,000 oil silos at more than 660 refineries worldwide begin to be emptied and abandoned. A somewhat disconcerting scenario to contemplate, but the Oil Silo Home makes the best of it by recycling obsolete structures of a bygone era into low-cost, low-maintenance domiciles. The decommissioned refineries themselves, filled with clusters of these uber-green multi-unit homes, could potentially be transformed into entire self-sustaining, clean-energy generating communities.
Obviously, the conversion of a forsaken oil silo into a proper home starts off with a super-thorough detox. In this instance, the designers envisioned in situ bioremediation, a process in which lingering toxic contaminants are cleaned up by soil microbes at the site. Next, large-scale components of the homes are prefabricated off site to save time, money and resources. Once the modular elements are installed, residents are ready to move on in to their extremely sturdy (built to stringent industrial standards, oil silos are resilient to just about anything whether it be water, wind or zombies) and extremely sustainable retrofitted bubble digs.
The laundry list of green features of each Oil Silo Home is exhaustive: super-thick insulated wall panels, rainwater recycling systems, rooftop gardens, natural ventilation, EV charging stations, radiant floor heating, green walls, and the list goes on and on. Most crucial are the photovoltaic panels covering each spherical home. The designers explain: “The spherical geometry of oil silos provides optimal orientation for harvesting sunlight year-round. Simultaneously, surface exposure is maximized for the installation of solar devices. Sunlight is collected by photovoltaic panels and solar hot water heaters installed along the silo periphery.” Such an abundance of in-house clean energy production elevates the homes from carbon-neutral to carbon-positive status, meaning that they generate more energy than they consume, feeding excess juice back into the grid.
Envisioned as an affordable housing solution, each Oil Silo Home is divided into three units that are accessible via a central pneumatic elevator or exterior walkway that wraps around each silo. How the designers decided to divvy up the space is interesting: one 968-square-foot unit is meant for a young couple; another, boasting twice the square footage, is meant for the typical four-person nuclear family; and the last and largest at more than 2,400 square feet of space is designed for multigenerational clans of up to six people.
The layout of each home explained in more detail:
Living and sleeping spaces circumnavigate the circular plan to provide copious natural lighting. The multi-generational home encompasses one full floor plate while the smaller two and four-person family homes are divided into two levels. All units feature large openings equipped with prefabricated balcony units for generous open-air ventilation. Interaction between neighbors is facilitated by situating the main entrance of each unit along the exterior walkway, thereby maintaining communal connection while providing private terrace space for each family.
Head on over to PinkCloud.dk for plenty more information and renderings of this ingenious post-oil housing scheme. And just think about this: Sometime down the line, you could potentially live in a converted oil silo as your primary residence and keep a waterfront vacation property at a retrofitted oil rig. Wild, eh? And, of course, you'd need to decorate your properties with these requisite interior decor items.