Re-Utility — Architecture Competition by

Call for Entries: ‘Re-Utility’ | International Using grain bins to find a new purpose Hosted by UNI

Fig: 1 — Junkyards are filled with products that are discarded before their expiry and may have not even lived up to their full potential.

Waste production

Humankind fabricates infrastructure to fulfill its diverse needs. They have been a tangible part of the human lifestyle for a very long time. All infrastructure has a useful life and this cycle must be reinvented at the end of this life.

Humans use huge equipment for storage in several industries. The infrastructure employed for such purposes is built to survive for a very long time. But with the technology constantly evolving, newly efficient and more sustainable types of equipment are being made available, which are rendering the old storage solutions useless.

Naturally, they end up in junkyards which are increasing waste production each day. Barren lands are converted into landfills to hold staggering heaps of waste material. Not only does the land get polluted as the junk remains there for an endless amount of time, but the quality of the surrounding environment also depreciates.

How can we give these large pieces of equipment a new life?

Fig: 2 — Farmlands around the world use grain bins as a storage facility.

Agricultural storage facilities

There are several types of equipment that are used for storage by different industries. Steel grain bins are one of the most common systems used in agriculture for the storage of grains. These cylindrical storage silos are widely used in many developed countries on farmlands. They have been in use for a very long time and are now being replaced by tower silos made of concrete and other storage infrastructure.

In the present circumstances of huge food storage demands, these grain bins are losing their relevance of use since they were not designed originally for such capacities. This provides an opportunity to reinvent the way we use grain bins. Repurposing of infrastructure into livable spaces is an ongoing trend. Since these grain bins have stood the test of time for the last 100 years, they can survive for a century more.

Can we imagine the use of grain bins to extend beyond their intended use?

Fig: 3 — Grain Bins are huge storage entities that may not be as relevant on farmlands today, but can be reinvented in a sustainable manner.

Brief of the Competition

Brief: The challenge of the competition is to design a lodging center by repurposing steel grain bins in an innovative way.

Steel grain bins of diameter 21 feet are part of this challenge. The participants are required to use a minimum of 6 such bins (no more than 12 bins) to create a space that can be used by the members of a farming community to lodge their trainees, visiting the farm for training. The lodges can be rented for 2–3 weeks.

The aim of the challenge is to understand how equipment of the past can be repurposed to meet the needs of the present. The recycling of the steel grain bins must be done conscientiously taking into consideration its various limitations.

The lodging center is designed to accommodate agriculture enthusiasts and trainees who will visit the city farms, to gain knowledge about agriculture processes and trade. Privacy and interaction must be guided in the layout as per the nature of the activity. The sociocultural, economic, and environmental settings of context are to be considered in the design.

Design Objectives

Space Utilisation: Grain bins are huge entities built crudely and the redesign must use the bin space efficiently. The compact space can be serviced with modular elements.

Accessible: The design must be safe and accommodating to all users.

Ambiance: The planning, planning, ventilation, and materials must create a comfortable aesthetic and convenience for use.

Sustainable: The reuse project must be designed with minimal resources and waste to achieve functional output.


Fig: 4 — Site image

The United States is a major exporter of food and the agriculture sector contributes heavily to the economy of the country. There are vast stretches of farmlands in every state and assistance from technology has enabled urban farming as well. Kansas is a well-established state in regards to the agriculture and manufacturing industry.

The site is located in Osage City, Kansas. It consists of huge farming lands and agricultural practice is widespread. The majority of the city’s farmlands have been using steel grain bins for storage. The reputation of the agricultural state of Kansas extends to the city as it is benefitted by subtropical climate and plain, flatlands that are ideal for farming.

The site is just outside the dense settlement area of the city. It can be accessed by Lakin street surrounded by vast green stretches of land. This site will be suitable for this typology due to its connection to farming and holding a prime location in Kansas.

•Site area = 658 sq.m
•Height restriction = 9 metres
•Coordinates =
38°38'12.1"N 95°49'26.4"W

Area Programme

The 21’ diameter steel bins will have an Eave height of 5.59 meters. The total height of the grain bin will come to 7.60 meters, encompassing a volume of 196 cubic meters (weight: 160 metric tonnes without air floor).

It is to be considered that the grain bin is empty and does not have any flooring (concrete or steel) and no ventilation systems. The participants are expected to work with the shell of the steel bin and make modifications as per their own needs. The participants are free to modify the bin by cutting/trimming/adding or altering it in any way they deem fit to accommodate the program requirements. There is no restriction to material or design as long as the shell of the grain bin is incorporated into the design.

Lodging: 10 living units with living room, kitchenette, toilet, and sleeping chamber. Each unit can be occupied by a maximum of 4 users.

The learning center will be used by guests to study or occasionally for workshops held by experts. Social interaction must be promoted to ensure quality learning is advocated in the center.

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Re-Utility | Sustainable Design Competition on UNI | About

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