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Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Anneli Hidalgo


Renovation for the future

Sustainable restorations and new perspectives are at the heart of the Nordic Built Challenge, which is now entering the second phase of the competition.

The Nordic Built Challenge is an open multidisciplinary design contest torefurbish five specific buildings. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovation and the development of sustainable, viable and scalable refurbishment concepts for some of the most common building types in the Nordic region.
“The main ideas behind the challenge are threefold. One goal is to draw attention to one of the big challenges in society, which is the need for sustainable renovation and refurbishment. There are huge numbers of buildings in the Nordic countries that are in need of renovation. The second goal is to bring out the ‘unusual suspects’ and innovators that there are plenty of in the building sector, and to push the limit of what is doable. Finally, the challenge concludes in the mission to have five renovations of sustainable buildings as a showcase of what is possible in the Nordic building sector,” says Trine Pertou Mach, project manager for Nordic Built at Nordic Innovation.

The Nordic Built Charter is a platform for the sector that has been created by the business itself. Around 70 leaders from the Nordic countries have gathered to identify the core – the very DNA – of the Nordic building sector, according to Trine Pertou Mach.
“To have the ownership of this platform by the industry is what makes it strong. The building sector is made up of creative people who are committed to sustainability. What I especially appreciate with the Nordic Built Charter is that it’s not a certification, but more of a holistic approach and a way of thinking. It covers the whole range of sustainability. Not only the aspects of the environment and the business but also the people and has a focus on quality of life, which I think is a very Nordic approach.”

The challenge comprises five individual competitions – one in each Nordic country. The assignment is to demonstrate the principles of the Nordic Built Charter by refurbishing existing buildings in innovative and sustainable ways, while ensuring financial and practical viability. The five buildings of the Nordic Built Challenge are Ellebo, an apartment building in Ballerup, Denmark; Hippostalo, an office building in Tampere, Finland; Höfðabakki, a mixed industrial/commercial building in Reykjavik, Iceland; Posthuset, an office building in Oslo, Norway; and finally an apartment building in Botkyrka, Sweden. Each country therefore has four finalists for each building. In total there were 171proposals submitted to the challenge. The jury selected 20 finalists in the early spring of 2013 from the five Nordic countries.

The Danish project, a social housing complex from 1963 in a suburb of Copenhagen, is in critical need of all-round renewal. Part of the challenge is to ensure a good indoor climate and lower energy demands, giving a holistic improvement with the limited resources available for social housing. ‘Outside’, one of the entries, is focusing its strategy on three principles: density, outing and community. The proposals include a new floor of penthouses, new layers of exterior space and a large open park in the center with community and allotment gardens. Entry 77998 consists of many small features that are not necessarily interconnected and that can be implemented in various scales of ambition. This provides the possibility of adjusting the project according to needs and financing. The suggestions include measures such as the harvesting of rainwater, using recyclable materials, implementing solar cells and using district heating based on water incineration.

According to the entry named ‘Ellebo Garden Room’, the landscape of the housing complex would, as the name indicates, be transformed into a lively and ecologically rich shared garden. There would, among other things, be a loose ensemble of garden rooms for both habitat and use. This includes new breakthrough places for better accessibility, allotment gardens and the incorporation of sustainable engineering features, for example a flood meadow as a buffer capacity for storm drainage. The proposed strategy for renovation of the structures is a combination of maximal retention of the existing structure, substantial new construction, complete renovation of the facades and substantial landscape renovation. The fourth project, entry 01143, aims to be loyal to the characteristic features of the current building, primarily focusing on adding details and refining façade solutions. One suggestion is to add a new balcony slab to the full length of the facades, attached to the steel structure, which allows effective insulation against thermal bridges. This entry also takes a multidisciplinary approach, highlighting the importance of environmentally friendly materials, good indoor air quality, passive energy technologies and energy efficiency.

For the Tampere office building, ‘Equilibrium’wishes to transform it into an attractive, business hub for the entire community. Besides creating a new meeting place and collaboration platform, the vision is to develop a sustainable work environment concept with a holistic eco-efficiency approach. Part of this will be by looking at the most efficient direct levers claimed to be in building energy performance, automation systems, and space efficiency and utilization. Entry number two, ‘Maitohorsma’, is a global work environment system with a hybrid physical-virtual space that redefines the traditional work environment. The goal is to intensify the exchange of information between team members in an open environment, reduce space needs and improve work efficiency. The proposal also includes eco-efficiency innovations such as biomass automatic heating, and optimal use of daylight and ventilation systems.

‘Let’s talk about habitat’ proposes work management, energy efficiency management and space management as the main spheres of thought and action. According to the proposal, an integrated management from these three spheres will result in less need for office space, and will give energy savings. The proposal also provides solutions for dividing the building into zones of work, with different needs for ventilation and heating in the different seasons. ‘Engage’, the final entry in the Finnish challenge, wants to include the future occupants to a greater extent, presenting an idea of pointing out the importance and possibility to encourage people to adapt eco-efficient ways of using IT-solutions. The building “Dashboard app” aims to help the workers and building administration to minimize their environmental impact.

Höfðabakki is a landmark in the central area of Reykjavik. Entry AS8GO wants to take advantage of the spectacular views, make the most of varying daylight conditions and the good connections to main traffic routes and public transportation. The main building would also be made more prominent with additional storeys and a new building entrance to provide shelter. Entry 22063 describes an overall solution for the site with the emphasis on waste, car parking and nature. Part of the refurbishment is also adding a new layer of glass to enable natural ventilation, reduce energy demand and improve soundproofing.
NOCO2 has a more people-oriented focus, highlighting the needs of the pedestrian. Bicycle and pedestrian routes are improved and laid in diagonal lines for easier access, more green areas are created for greater biodiversity and animal life and to make the site green and alive. Entry X9V3Y aims to construct a strong ensemble of office buildings and service areas that both fulfill the most stringent regulations in terms of sustainability and local solutions and at the same time satisfy the needs of those who occupy the area.

Entry ‘A well tailored suit’ has a vision of extension and remodeling in mind for the Norwegian Posthuset, adding significantly to the floor plan for both office space and mall, and linking the building more to the terminal’s internal life, both physically and visibly. The proposition also incorporates several environmental strategies such as natural ventilation, energy efficient lighting and grey water recycling. ‘Urban Mountain’ wants to remake the building into a new environmental landmark by incorporating Norwegian plants and biotopes to clean the Oslo city air, a lab for urban farming and new facades with integrated solar shading and natural ventilation.

‘Harvest’ is taking Nordic design as their starting point, with a wooden addition to enhance the building. The proposal also includes harvesting of energy, where the house feeds on excess heat as well as ambient energy at optimal times. Entry number four, ‘Postzerobygget’, is all about keeping it simple and focusing on reuse of the structure, façade and iconic features.
“We tried to analyze the existing materials, how to reprogram the space of the building and look at the potential of the present structure. The idea was to create a contemporary addition with proven systems that could be extended and reprogrammed in the future. So simplicity and reuse were the key focus aspects of our proposal,” explains José Hernandez, architect at Space Group.

Together with BollingerGrohmann, Florian Koshe AS and AJL Engineers, Space Group, wanted to make the most out of the building and also of the site, said José Hernandez.
“It definitely makes sense to create an energy efficient building in the very central area of Oslo and take advantage of communication possibilities. We have paid a lot of attention to the urban features and the development and history of the city. I think this strategy, in combination with our architectural point of view and our aim to keep it simple, was appealing to the judges.”The idea is to establish interdisciplinary synergies between architecture, building components, and technologies in order to develop cycles where energy use is minimized and materials are long lasting.

The final project, a 70s housing complex in Fittja in the southern part of Stockholm, is typical of the many multifamily projects realized during the so called Million Program. The building, with its worn-down apartments and poor energy efficiency, is in desperate need of thorough refurbishment . ‘Fittja People’s Palace’ is focusing on the tenants and aims to look at the situation with a 12 point scheme for renewal that is an open process involving all stakeholders. A complete interior renewal is suggested as well as changes to the ground floor to meet new needs for areas for local initiatives. ‘Overall’s’ proposal is also a need-centered concept. The vision is to enhance the inter-block socialization by augmenting the courtyard flora to create a more favorable microclimate, combined with citizen consultation and sustainable living benefits for each household.

‘Reebotkyrka’ has transformed the Nordic Built Charter principles into seven concepts, summarizing the most important aspects of sustainable design. The aim is to ensure housing quality, significantly reduce the building’s overall energy consumption, and provide the necessary renovations with the highest regard to the environment. The entry wants to amplify the opportunities regarding restoration solutions rather than only renovation.

‘Unlock’s’ concept is based on five keystones; social, economic, environmental, architectural and technical values. These are, according to the proposal, the foundation in the whole phase of the renovation project.
The four finalists in each of the five countries are now working on improving their projects further. In September the final national winners will be announced. The best proposal for each building will win the possibility of a consultancy contract with the building owner, and the final Nordic winner will be awarded a prize of NOK 1,000,000 for the best overall demonstration of the Nordic Built Charter.


Read more: 5 winners in Nordic Built Challenge


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