Movie: Jacob van Rijs on MVRDV's Frosilo apartments

Frosilo apartments offer a "great combination of old and new" says MVRDV's Jacob van Rijs

The eighth movie in our exclusive series profiling buildings by MVRDV looks at Frosilo – a pair of converted seed silos in Copenhagen that now contain some of the neighbourhood's most sought-after apartments (+ movie).

Frosilo by MVRDV

Completed in 2005, the Frosilo project involved the overhaul of the twin 1960s-built silos, which were put out of service when the soybean processing plant closed in the 1990s. MVRDV was tasked with transforming the structures into an apartment block.

Frosilo by MVRDV

Unlike the warehouse conversions common in the area, which maintain a historic character, the silos were seen by MVRDV as a bare structure that could easily accommodate "futuristic" homes.

Frosilo by MVRDV

"It's a great combination of old and new, and the building is a very recognisable focus point," explains MVRDV co-founder Jacob van Rijs in the new film. "It's an interesting sign for the neighbourhood."

Frosilo by MVRDV

The building is located in the city's harbourfront area known as Islands Brygge.

Apartments were added around the perimeter of the two raw concrete cylinders, leaving the internal space to function as a generous full-height lobby.

Frosilo by MVRDV

"We had this idea to – because it is really on a great spot with a great view of the city – to try to give the houses more views," says van Rijs. "And that would mean that instead of putting the apartments on the inside, we would put them on the outside."


Related content: see all of Dezeen's exclusive MVRDV movies


"What we want to have is the bare concrete as a remembrance of the old structure. The hall, which we have this black and whitish space interior, gives it a really strange, otherworldly, spacey interior which I really like."

Frosilo by MVRDV

There are eight storeys of apartments, each with its own private balcony. But there are no apartments on the ground floor, allowing the concrete core to show through.

Frosilo by MVRDV

"Because of the shape of the building, these apartments are not straight, but they are kind of bent, kind of banana shaped, with a view towards the outside," explains van Rijs. "So, you have a gigantic balcony and a view from the inside of the house towards the city, following your perspective."

Frosilo by MVRDV

Rotterdam-based MVRDV – which was founded in 1993 by van Rijs with Winy Maas and Nathalie de Vries – has completed numerous residential projects that demonstrate the firm's radical approach to urban housing. Others include the polychromatic Silodam building and the Parkrand complex, both in Amsterdam, as well as The Mirador in Spain.

Frosilo by MVRDV

Other buildings by the firm profiled in our movie series include a Paris office block with a hollow centre and a library contained within a glass pyramid.

Photography is by Rob 't Hart.