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CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES

BOOK:  DAVID CARR-SMITH  -  IMPROVISED ARCHITECTURE IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

"GRAIN-SILO" SQUAT 1989 to 1998

the CENTRAL STAIR  - p1(of 1)   

 

< SILO - INTRO <  
< SILO - GROUND-FLOOR <
  
   SILO - CENTRAL-STAIR  
> SILO - ATTICS >

> SILO - DRYING TOWERS >
  

> SILO - "CORNER TOWER" >
  
> THE PUBLIC SILO & THE KROEG >
  
> NEW-SILO - PUBLIC & PRIVATE >

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the CENTRAL STAIR & ITS 'TOWER' 

In the building's centre between the long silo blocks is a windowed 3-bay 'tower' capped with a huge wooden 'pyramid' - its impressive scale reduced by whimsical dormers and crenellated balustrades. Its principal mechanical function was vertical grain transport via bucket-conveyors from the Hall at its base to its "Pyramid" head-house, from which, via its great central attic the "Museum", it was sent to various parts of the building for processing, storage, or discharge.

The tower houses a long sequence of narrow wooden strangely domestic stairs (like a 19C tenement-block) - this 'Central-Stair' is the only common route from Ground to Attics. It serves three levels of conventional rooms (director's office, company admin-office, the lab and grain-factor's office); these, the only part of the Silo designed primarily for human functioning and already supplied with electricity/water/gas, were the first locations that the present squatters occupied; (they had previously been occupied by site-owner-invited 'anti-squatters', who had vacated the building).  Above these admin levels the stair re-enters the industrial domain: on landing L-4 the 'domestic-style' stair ends and one must enter a door into part of an erstwhile grain weighing area - now a small steel-girt 'lobby' containing the strange twisted stair-flight up to the Silo's grain-distribution hall, now the "Museum".

SILO'S CENTRAL 'TOWER': FLOOR PLANS: L0 TO L4 (OF 5) 
(on-site drawing c 95 / up to EEN)
Central-Stair (L0 to L4) - stair, apt-enclosures, main-features.

 

SILO'S CENTRAL 'TOWER': E FACADE
(pic-crop 9-94 / to W)

The central 'tower' between the silo-storage wings contains the Silo's only common vertical route: the ' Central-Stair' which, until the last commercial use in 1987, served the company offices and lab (windowed levels 1/2/3), which, already 'semi- domesticated', were sites of the Silo's first live-in occupation. 

This east facade reveals the following:

L0: the Central Hall - to the left of its three windows the unassuming little 'domestic-scale' Central-Stair begins its journey up the Central 'tower'.

L1: FROUJKE and DIDERIK's apt is the erstwhile Silo director's and secretary's office. It overlooks the Ij and the Silo's quay through an incongruously 'homely' bay- window. 

L2: TON's apt - formerly the Silo's main admin offices.

L3: KIMMER's apt [no recordings] - formerly the Silo's grain testing lab.

L4: the mechanical functions resume (:?weighing and bagging?).

L5: the "Museum" - the great central attic via which grain, bucket-elevated from the Hall to its "Pyramid" 'head-house', was distributed to the silo-filling conveyors of the North and South Attics.

SILO'S CENTRAL 'TOWER': W FACADE
(pic-crop 9-94  / to W)

This west facade reveals the following:

L0: The central Hall, accessed from the fronting dijk.

L1: Under and behind the Slurf (which projects from the facade between levels 1 and 2) is a former ?bagging hall, converted in c1994 into the Silo's public art gallery, reached from the public dijk up an external wooden stair. To its right is the window of a tiny room (the temporary home of Sasha [not recorded]). 

L2: RUUDs apt (which extends a garden-terrace onto the top of the Slurf). 

L3: OSKAR's apt [no recordings] - probably in the erstwhile office of the grain-factor.

L4: DIDERIK and HUUB's huge store [no recordings] is fronted by the 3 tall lancets. On its right is the open front of what was (and is still used as) the Museum's hoist room   

L5: Over that a row of seven tiny windows tucked between the corbels send sunbeams into the dark cavity of the "Museum". 

 

SILO'S CENTRAL 'TOWER': W FACADE -  FROM THE SLURF'S PIER
(pic 6-94 / to E)

The 'Slurf' (proboscis or "elephant trunk") housed a conveyor that filled Houthaven-moored barges. It projects from the facade between levels 1 and L2 - just below Ruud's L2 apt (he has used it as an exterior extension of his living room, making a terrace and garden at its east end).

.

the CENTRAL STAIR AND ITS APTS 

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CLIMBING THE STAIR ...

Starting the 22m climb from the rear of the Hall of bikes to the "Pyramid" crowned "Museum", one looks up the stair-welI's narrow central slot threaded with water pipe, strung with bunched telephone cables (fused together in a recent fire, dribbling plastic and flashing strands of copper - but still working!), punctuated on each landing with the red drum of a fire-hose.

CENTRAL STAIR: L0: ENTRY AT REAR OF HALL 
(pic 6-94 / to E)

CENTRAL STAIR: L1: VIEW UP TO LANDING L-4
(pic 6-94 / to E)

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CLIMBING THE STAIR ... cont ...

On the next three levels the atmosphere of 'offices' has been subtly skewed to 'apartment-house' by debris of domesticity: pinned photos, dying plants, shower-steam, beer bottles. The change starts on landing L-1 where a shower and wc face a glazed door that reveals what appears to be an ordinary home hallway - a strange surprise: a family flat. 

CENTRAL STAIR: L1 LANDING WC & SHOWER
(pic 9-94 / to S)

On landing 1, opposite the front-door of Froujke's and Diderik's apt is a wc and shower. A shared facility that they use as the bathroom of their apt. 

CENTRAL STAIR: L1 WEST - ART GALLERY
(pic 9-94 / to EEN)

A large chamber on the west side of the tower - housed the lower-end of the vertical conveyor (parts of the conveyor are at the rear of the room). Entered from the Central Stair landing 1 (door far right-corner), and from the Dijk up large wooden stairs under the Slurf, and via its loading-platform. 
Sometimes open to the public [Ref: SILO PUBLIC-ART]

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FROUJKE K & DIDERIK M APT (19## - ) [L1 - E-side]  

A family home established at the start of the squat. The ordinary rooms of these offices were easily adapted into homes; this was the Silo company Director's and boasts a house-type bay window overlooking Het Ij - incongruously projecting from the Silo's facade as if a suburban house was engulfed within the building.   

FROUJKE APT: ENTRY HALL 
(pic 6-94 / to NNW)

View through to kitchen from 'front-door'.

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - TO KITCHEN END
(pic 6-94 / to WWS)

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - CANDLE HOLDER
(pic 6-94 / to SW)

 

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - MIRROR
(pic 6-94 / to N)

Froujke made it from Silo sieve hung with her unsold jewelry.

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - TO WINDOW END
(pic 6-94 / to EEN)

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - CHILD'S PLATFORM
(pic 9-94 / to N)

The raised child's platform and its steps is Diderik's: "for small people to look out".

FROUJKE APT: N-ROOM - CHILD'S PLATFORM
(pic 6-94 / to N)

FROUJKE APT: S-ROOM BED/SIT (EX SILO DIRECTOR'S OFFICE)
(pic 6-94 / to E)

The open window has a child-barrier across it.

FROUJKE APT: S-ROOM BED/SIT - BAY WINDOW
(pic 9-94 / to NNE)

FROUJKE APT: S-ROOM BED/SIT - BAY WINDOW VIEW TO NORTH
(pic 9-94 / to N)

FROUJKE APT: S-ROOM BED/SIT - BAY WINDOW VIEW TO SOUTH
(pic 9-94 / to SSE)

The Silo quay to the dukdalf and the Stenenhoofd (people are socialising on the quay). 

The Silo's Director could watch the loading and discharging of ships and barges: the discharge of grain into the conveyor of the quay; the suction derricks and large ships moored outside the dukdalfs. 

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CLIMBING THE STAIR ... cont

On the 2nd landing there are two apts (with separate entries but linked together through a shared kitchen). There is also one of the Silo's strangest 'environmental psycho-shocks', all the more nightmarish for its location next to dwellings: an ordinary little brightly lit Vereniging office with desk, pin-board, steel-locker, and a door one assumes is the office store-cupboard. Open this and at ones feet and before ones face is a huge cavity crossed with platforms disappearing upwards into blackness, sometimes raining from the dark above; an abandoned silo - crumbling and hollow: a spatial/contextual lesion so unexpected I was precipitated on its brink into rapidly cycling memories of fragments of dreams.

CENTRAL STAIR: L2 LANDING - VERENIGING OFFICE
(pic 9-94 / to SW)

The 'office-cupboard' door which opens directly onto an empty silo's gulf is at the rear corner.  

(The office is here in a stripped state - I have always regretted that I missed the opportunity to attempt to record this crucial phenomenon.)

CENTRAL STAIR: L2 LANDING - TO RUUD'S 'FRONT DOOR'
(pic 9-94 / to W)

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RUUD PANHUIZEN APT (Aug 1989- ) [L2 - W-side]

RUUD APT: ENTRY PASSAGE FROM 'FRONT-DOOR'
(pic 6-94 / to WWS)

At the far end is the living-room

RUUD APT: ENTRY PASSAGE BATH-'ALCOVE'
(pic 9-94 / to SSW)

RUUD APT: ENTRY PASSAGE BATH-'ALCOVE'
(pic 6-94 / to EEN)

RUUD APT: WORK/STORE-SPACE & ENTRY PASSAGE
(pic 6-94 / to EEN)

The remains of a vertical bucket-conveyor (in 8 rectangular wooden tubes) passed through the present work-space.

At the entry-passage end is Ruud's metal-faced 'front-door'; the next (open) door is the wc, next the bath-alcove, the nearest door is a sauna.

I am standing in the living-room entry.

RUUD APT: LIVING-ROOM WITH ENTRY PASSAGE
(pic 6-94 / to NE)

The right-hand door is the entry-passage. At the far end is the kitchen: a link-space between Ruud's and Ton's apts - shared with Ton.

RUUD APT: LIVING-ROOM
(pic 9-94 / to S

RUUD APT: LIVING-ROOM WITH KITCHEN ENTRY
(pic 6-94 / to N)

Beside the stove is a window with steps: the exit to the Slurf terrace. At the far end a door is open to the shared kitchen.

RUUD APT: LIVING-ROOM WINDOW-EXIT TO SLURF-TERRACE
(pic 6-94 / to W)

Window exit to the terrace. Ruud's terrace is supported on the transverse steel joists under the Slurf's roof.

RUUD APT: SILO FACADE WITH FROM SLURF-TERRACE
(pic 6-94 / to NE)

Ruud's living-room window-exit and stove chimney. The metal sheet on its left supports a terminal for telephone(?) cables. The 3-windowed level above (also with a stove chimney) is Osca's apt - alas never visited. 

RUUD APT: SLURF-TERRACE WITH LIVING-ROOM WINDOW-EXIT 
(pic 6-94 / to NNE)

The small window is the kitchen.

RUUD APT: SLURF-TERRACE 
(pic 6-94 / to NW)

Note the lower terrace's beautiful glazed-door balustrades.  A ('summer') bath was later installed.

.

RUUD & TON KITCHEN [L2 - W-side]

RUUD & TON KITCHEN
(pic 6-94 / to W)

Ruud's and Ton's apts are linked via this kitchen.

RUUD & TON KITCHEN WITH ENTRY TO TON'S LIVING-ROOM
(pic 6-94 / to EEN)

At the far end is a door to Ton's living-room; in the wall on our right is the door to Ruud's living-space.

.

TON APT (19## -) [L2- E-side]

TON LIVING-ROOM
(pic 6-94 / to NNE)

Ton's living-space is in the main Silo admin office. 

At the far left is the way to the (shared) kitchen.

TON LIVING-ROOM BURNT
(pic 9-94 / to S)

An accidental fire, started with a candle (in the newly built bed), was put out (and the damage limited to this room) using the Central-Stair fire-hose system installed by Diderik et al.

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CLIMBING THE STAIR ... cont    

On landing 3 there are two more apartments (not recorded or visited) and an 'artistically decorated' shared WC: it's rusty cistern in a frame of golden squirming curls of extruded polystyrene. 

CENTRAL STAIR: L3 LANDING
(pic 9-94 / to SW)

At the E end of this landing [pic left] there are 7 steps down to metal door, into a space (never visited, but possibly similar to the Vereniging office on the level below: ref landing 2) used by Youri for guests.  

The toothed bar is (I'm told) the remains of a vertical-conveyor(?) mechanism.

 

 

 

CENTRAL STAIR: L3 LANDING TO VILBJORG'S 'FRONT DOOR'
(pic 11-97 / to W)

During the Silo's last phase Vilbjorg made paintings on the walls of this landing and the one above. 

 

CENTRAL STAIR: L3 LANDING WC & SHOWER
(pic 9-94 / to S)

On landing 3 a shared wc with 'art' adornments. 

The extruded-foam cistern-frame demonstrates a radical associational shift - from rusty-urinal-fitting to sumptuous-decor - invoked by the minimal means of a flippant doodle.

 

CLIMBING THE STAIR ... cont  

On level 4 a different place begins - the end of domesticity is signalled by a huge and primitive riveted-steel girder plunging diagonally from the outer wall up through the floor of the "Museum" (bracing the latter's ceiling-platform against the thrust of the 'Pyramid'). Here the character and position of everything begins to change: to go further one must enter a door (once the anti-squatters' upper limit) into what has become a small lower lobby to the weird "Museum". The open floor that once pertained here has been enclosed (as a huge studio/store-room) behind a bizarre wall like the facade of a miniature medieval house; its wooden frame made without nails, the joints plugged and wedged, infilled with plastered wire-netting over insulation foam; the inner face is nailed planks. Crammed in this little ante-room to the wonders of the "Museum" are strange lesions of scale and place: massive industrial steel, the 'model-street' facade, a uniquely graceful wooden stair (of 19thC craft) sheltering the stink of a cats' lavatory; all confined in the harsh gloom-glare of a neon tube and a fat modern plastic sewer pipe's intermittent rushing gurgle.

CENTRAL STAIR: L3-L4: VIEW UP TO L4 FROM STAIR
(pic 6-94 / to NNW)

CENTRAL STAIR: L4: ENTRY TO ANTE-ROOM - PAINTING BY VILBJORG
(pic 11-97 / to NW)

Vilbjorg's paintings added during the Silo's last phase.

CENTRAL STAIR: L4 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM - VIEW THROUGH LANDING DOOR
(pic 6-94 / to WWS)

CENTRAL STAIR: L4 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM
(pic 11-97 / to SW)

CENTRAL STAIR: L4 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM - STAIR TO MUSEUM
(pic 9-94 / to SW

CENTRAL STAIR: L4 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM - STAIR TO MUSEUM
(pic 11-97 / to SSE)

CENTRAL STAIR: L4-L5 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM - FROM THE STAIR TO THE MUSEUM 
(pic 9-94 / to NNW)  

CENTRAL STAIR: L4 - ANTE-ROOM TO MUSEUM - W-WALL - DIDERIK'S ALL-WOOD CONSTRUCTION
(pic 9-94 / to WWN)

Wall frame fixings detail at top right of door-frame.

 

CLIMBING THE STAIR ... cont  

This last strange little wooden stair is our last climb to reach the great central Attic. This stair is unique in the Silo as a craft-based yet purely practical object. Made within a society that equated leisure and the domestic with useless aesthetic elaboration and expense, it is - however much it now seems 'craft-quaint' and of domestic scale - obviously made, raw and utilitarian, for workshop/industry. The climb is steep and short and every step's unique hand-made long-worn form caresses ones sense.

 

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CONTENTS   4 SITES  

SILO

  TETTERODE   DE LOODS   EDELWEIS   APPENDICES   NOTES   SUB-SITES