08.12.2023 / News

How can new builds be designed with knowledge from existing 200 year old long-lasting buildings in order to reduce their embodied energy and resource consumption from use stage refurbishments, replacements, and adaptive reuses over a 200 year time horizon?

This research question is explored through a new industrial ph.d. project: Long-Lasting Architecture: Towards a sustainable building practice.
The project is carried out by the industrial ph.d. fellow, architect MAA Tobias Hentzer Dausgaard, in a collaboration between LETH & GORI, Rønnow  and Aarhus School of Architecture, as well as third parties Eduard Troelsgård Rådgivende Ingeniører (civil engineers)and Byggeri København (Municipality of Copenhagen’s Building Development Unit), co-funded by the Innovation Foundation Denmark.

The project explores architectural design principles and prototypes to increase new, urban, multistorey buildings’ longevity through the early design stages, with a focus on those building elements that are most frequently replaced or refurbished in today’s building practice in Denmark. Contemporary policy and practice in Denmark – and Europe more widely – have been shown to underappreciate the significant future economic and environmental burdens of renovations and replacements over buildings’ lifespans which averages around 200 years in Denmark. Research has found potential energy, resource, and cost savings in the increase of new builds’ longevity with the application of aesthetic, functional and technical design knowledge from pre-industrial buildings (pre-1950). Yet, this knowledge has not been tested in conventional practice nor developed with a focus on the most transient building layers that are renovated/replaced the most: the building envelope, HVAC and interior furnishings and fittings. The project identifies this knowledge in a range of preindustrial building case studies, develops design principles and prototypes to be integrated into contemporary building practice, and iteratively tests and develops them in Rønnow and LETH & GORI’s current projects.

How do we balance the value that architecture creates for its users and our society at large with what buildings use of natural resources and how they negatively impact local environments of resource extraction and the global climate in the long run?

Says architect and industrial ph.d. fellow Tobias Hentzer Dausgaard and continues:

If we listen to the ’silent knowledge’ of old buildings, and study their resource flows over time and what caused them, we may advance on how to design long-lasting buildings that require fewer resources in their future life. This design knowledge may have great value in terms of reducing operation costs and negative climate impacts while increasing the quality of the buildings. Thus, the project develops an approach to sustainability, grounded in the strengths of the architectural profession and its design knowledge, in close collaboration with all professions across the value chain of the construction sector.

The project is supervised by Professors Mogens A. Morgen, Lotte Bjerregaard Jensen, and Marie Frier Hvejsel, as well as architects and company partners Karsten Gori and Inge-Lise Kragh, along with the third parties and advisory board that represent a wide section of the construction industry:
Lisa Jørgensen, Project Leader, Byggeri København
Tom Hansen, Partner and CEO, Eduard Troelsgård Rådgivende Ingeniører
Ninette Mahler Alto, Sustainability Director, Pihl
Micki Aaen, Founder and CEO, Aaen Engineering
Thomas Waras Brogren, Head of Projects, Realdania
Rolf Simonsen and Nina Koch-Ørvad, Programme Director and Project Leader, Værdibyg and Bygherreforeningen
Søren Meyer, Head of Project Development, Grundejernes Investeringsfond
Charlotte Gudum, Head of Sustainability and technical expert, Byggeskadefonden.

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