Extraordinary Transformation of a Small Grain Silo into a Tiny House

A 340-square-foot grain silo nestled in the bustling urban landscape of Phoenix, Arizona, has undergone a remarkable transformation into an unexpected desert oasis and tiny house by masterfully addressing numerous design challenges. Located in the Garfield Historic District, this innovative project not only defies space constraints but also offers a unique blend of urban connectivity and serene seclusion.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

Christoph Kaiser, the principal at Phoenix-based Kaiserworks, spearheaded this endeavor, showcasing his remarkable talent for maximizing space and creating a warm, inviting living environment. In this exploration of the project, we delve into the intricacies of this tiny house conversion, revealing how a grain silo became an architectural marvel that seamlessly marries the desert landscape with urban living.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

Tiny House in Urban Oasis

From the 17-foot, operable slot window of the converted grain silo, one can gaze directly into the heart of downtown Phoenix. Despite its mere 700-foot proximity to the city’s tallest skyscraper, this urban enclave offers a sense of tranquility and detachment. This feeling of seclusion is masterfully crafted by a lush desert garden that envelops the home, setting the stage for an enchanting entry sequence.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

This carefully designed oasis features a framing canopy adorned with 16 mesquite trees, privacy hedges, a soothing water feature, and ground cover, all of which seamlessly merge with the home’s architecture, creating a harmonious transition between the natural and the urban. As Christoph Kaiser explains, “That idea of both providing a desert enclave and connecting you to the city core visually makes it more precious.”

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

Silo Turns into a Tiny House

At the heart of this desert retreat stands a 340-square-foot grain silo, meticulously converted to maximize every square inch of verticality. Originally intended for storage, Kaiser embarked on a mission to turn this cylindrical structure into a warm and livable space. Kaiser’s design philosophy prioritizes preserving natural light to create a comfortable and soul-nourishing environment, and the silo was the ultimate test of this principle.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

His transformative touch extended beyond the structure itself, encompassing the custom landscape, built-in furniture, custom-fabricated doors, and commissioned art, all contributing to a cohesive atmosphere that exudes warmth and invites inhabitants to linger.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

The Vertical Challenge Tiny House

Surprisingly, fitting a comprehensive living program into the 18-foot diameter of the silo proved to be an achievable feat. Kaiser’s strategy involved maximizing space by lining the envelope with the essential elements of the home, including the bed, bath, and cooking area. He explains his approach, saying, “What I learned in early investigations is that I wanted to preserve the verticality of space.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

While you’re in a relatively small house, you’re afforded generous space with 26-foot high ceilings.” This design philosophy allowed for moments of compression and release within the home, akin to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural philosophy. The compact bathroom ingeniously hugs the arc of the silo, with the shower located outside to conserve precious square footage.

Optimizing Space

The remaining components of the living space flank the same side of the silo, with Kaiser’s insistence on incorporating elements that provide a sense of spaciousness. This resulted in an open living area on the other side of the cylinder, complete with a dramatic sliding radial door that enhances the indoor-outdoor living experience.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

Above, the mezzanine occupies a substantial 60 percent of the silo’s space, housing a queen-sized bed and built-in cabinets for ample storage. The mezzanine offers a womb-like experience, further elevated by a 13-foot-wide image cast from an in-wall projector, promising “the best movie watching in all of Phoenix.”

A Technological Tiny House

Beneath the silo’s walls lies a mechanical marvel, carefully designed to ensure that technology remains invisible and non-intrusive. Kaiser’s approach to integrating technology emphasizes its functionality while minimizing its presence in the living space. He shares his philosophy, stating, “I’m not a fan of technology when it becomes the wallpaper of a space, but when it’s behind the scenes and works, it’s magical.”

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

To combat any potential mechanical noise exacerbated by the silo’s 1955 corrugated steel walls, Kaiser developed a subterranean cooling system that channels air through a 16-inch PVC pipe buried four feet beneath the ground. This innovative system snakes behind the millwork near the refrigerator and distributes cooled air through a fan in the mezzanine, complemented by an operable skylight for passive cooling. Similarly, the exhaust systems are discreetly located behind the refrigerator to eliminate noise, a testament to Kaiser’s commitment to creating a peaceful and unobtrusive living environment.

Photo Courtesy Kaiser Works

Christoph Kaiser’s extraordinary transformation of a humble grain silo into an urban oasis stands as a testament to the power of visionary design and meticulous execution. This tiny house conversion not only maximizes space but also seamlessly blends the natural beauty of the desert landscape with the vibrancy of urban living.

It exemplifies the delicate balance between seclusion and connectivity, offering inhabitants the best of both worlds. With its warm and inviting atmosphere, innovative use of vertical space, and invisible integration of technology, this grain silo-turned-sanctuary is a testament to the endless possibilities of architectural creativity. As Kaiser aptly puts it, it’s a silo we’ll never want to break down.

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