in the small danish town of ryslinge, arcgency has demonstrated the advantages of adaptive reuse with the transformation of an old factory into affordable housing. the project marks part of a larger initiative to preserve denmark‘s rural cultural heritage while developing modular construction systems for modern and flexible rental properties. this first renovation of fabers factories was undertaken in collaboration with ekolab and aarhus school of architecture and it focuses on standardization and the use of timber as a sustainable material.
to transform the building, arcgency adopted the concept of ‘a house in a house’. this strategy offers economic benefits while allowing the preservation of the original architecture. rather than adapting the factory to the new apartments, arcgency chose to adapt the apartments to the factory.
most of the factory is kept in its current state. only the parts that were in a critical condition have been renovated. inside the raw spaces of the factory, an independent timber construction has been erected, which stands free of the existing structure. the new timber construction is named ‘the core’ and the existing building is called ‘the shell’. each dwelling consists of a core and a shell.
the core constitutes the primary part of the dwelling. it is compact, energy-efficient and built using natural materials. it offers excellent daylight conditions, a comfortable indoor climate and great spatial variation. the core comprises an open kitchen-dining area, bedrooms and a bathroom. the shell is an unheated and uninsulated flexible space. depending on the season it can be used for activities that could be difficult to fit in a regular dwelling, such as an atelier, indoor playground or workshop.
the wall between the core and the shell is built from glass panels that can be completely opened up, creating a fluid boundary. during the cold months, the wall can be closed but the glass ensures that visual contact is intact. it is in the meeting between the raw unheated spaces and the new core that the building heritage is conveyed. the original surfaces with their traces from wear and tear and the vaulted brick ceiling is a stark contrast to the slick, new wooden constructions – a juxtaposition that communicates the history while simultaneously creating a setting for something new.
the new cores are constructed according to a modular grid and are kept free from the existing walls. they are built from standard materials, standard measures and with right angles. that way, the cores can be built without having to relate to any pre-existing crookedness of the building, resulting in reduced material wastage and reduced labor time and costs. it also means the cores can be prefabricated.
in an effort to be resource conscious, arcgency utilized an entirely timber construction for the new cores. this included load-bearing constructions, insulation, ceilings, walls and floors. as well as being a more sustainable material, the timber structure has the added benefit of being able to be erected with screws, meaning it can be disassembled, reused and recycled at a later date. wood also helps to create a healthy indoor climate and offers the potential for prefabrication.
the project has succeeded in developing a modular building method that can be applied to create affordable, healthy and sustainable housing. housing that can create the framework for a unique home. arcgency are excited to see how the future tenants will receive the project and make their individual mark on the place.
project name: fabers factories
location: ryslinge, fyn, denmark
design: arcgency in collaboration with ekolab and aarhus school of architecture
client: faaborg-midtfyn kommune / building owner: martin skibsted
photography: rasmus hjortshøj – COAST studio and arcgency
edited by: lynne myers | designboom