UNIONKUL STACK 1 is a three-storey high office building made from worn-out shipping containers in the Northern Harbour of Copenhagen. Usually, shipping containers are used for shipping only, but this is not always the case, as can be seen when taking a look at Danish architectural practice Arcgency’s unique own office building.
As part of their work on “Resource Conscious Architecture”, Arcgency have utilized their research knowledge and project experience in the assembly and disassembly of buildings to develop an architectural concept that is easily moveable while still offering the qualities of a permanent building.
The 660 square-metre UNIONKUL STACK 1 office building is, so to speak, made to be moved. The containers used in the project are an optimized product, refined to be cost-effective, strong and durable. They fit international transportation standards and can be shipped and set up anywhere – enabling building companies to practice direct reuse or to create housing on demand.
Utilizing the span between the containers, the architects have created a flexible space for the primary workspace functions. The interior of each container can then be used for secondary functions such as meeting rooms, workshops and storage. Capable of being set up in just two days, the container stack is covered with insulated sandwich panels, which also function as a vapour barrier and cladding.
The raw aesthetics, such as differentiated spatial sizes and layers of visual connections throughout the building, and great daylight conditions are the simple principles behind the architectural design. The shipping containers simply dictate the look and feel of the interior surfaces and structure.
Comprising around 90% recyclable materials, the containers are mostly kept in their original states, with operational doors, original floors and uneven surfaces. The only modification is the addition of a matte grey coating, which creates a uniform look and enhances the structural detailing.
The different spatial experiences and scales invite different uses, especially when considering the 40-feet-long spaces inside the containers and triple high spaces between them. The larger spaces open up a variety of possibilities and visual connections throughout the building. In addition, views of the exterior are always present, even across the building.
The visual connections create 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. Accordingly, teams inhabiting different parts of the building can still feel connected, but without actually disturbing each other.
We asked the founding partner of Arcgency, Mads Møller: what is it like working in a container office?
“It is rare that the architect gets to experience his own work on a day-to-day basis. But with the UNIONKUL project, we do, as Arcgency’s office is located on the top floor. We are very pleased with the building and it is a huge satisfaction to experience the realization of the concept. Actually it works so well that we are now starting the manufacturing of 1 000 m2 more, with only minor adjustments to further refine the product”, says Mads Møller.