At the end of the summer, members of the German ReCreate cluster met with members of the Dutch cluster for a transnational technical exchange at a deconstruction site in the small town of Weißenfels near Leipzig in Germany. In consultation with the BTU project manager Angelika Mettke and the German industry project partner Dietmar Gottschling of ECOSOIL, the meeting was prepared on-site to show how partial dismantling is carried out under practical conditions.
The dismantling process was observed by Viktoria Arnold (BTU), Thijs Lambrects, Hamidullah Attaullah (both TU/e) as well as an employee of the office of Patrick Teuffel (head of WP5) at the location site, Hardenbergstr. 39-42. The demonstration allowed them the ability to gain an insight into the dismantling process directly on site.
Considering the process, the partial deconstruction comprised the top two floors of the 5-story prefabricated building of the “P-Halle” type, which was constructed from the same range of prefab elements as the donor building for the ReCreate German pilot project at Otto-Nuschke-Str. 9-14 in Hohenmölsen. Accordingly, the same range of slabs and panels had to be dismantled and the same connections opened. That resulted in 30 dismantled floor slabs which required transport from Weißenfels to Hohenmölsen, where the temporary storage site is located.
The dismantled floor slabs are planned to be (re)used later on the same site in the planned pilot project, the construction of a youth center. Concerning the remaining dismantled concrete elements, they had to be handled with more caution because of potential causes of material composition. By that means, they first had to undergo the process of pre-shredding at the dismantling construction site and then sent to a recycling plant for material processing.
Check out the pictures of the site below of the dismantling process at the deconstruction site:
From the 20th to the 22nd of June 2022, the ReCreate project partners joined forces during the 1st project in-person meeting. The meeting was organised by the Swedish country cluster and was held in Helsingborg, Sweden. During the meeting, the participants had the chance, for the first time after 1 full year of project progress, to meet each other in person while a fruitful and successful meeting was held. All partners have made tremendous progress in developing their country cluster projects where they have described future planned activities on dismantling, storing, and reusing building materials in the construction of foreseen projects.
During the ReCreate meeting, all participants visited the first ReCreate pilot, which is an exhibition building built of 99% reused material in the residential area Drottninghög. The Swedish contributors, KTH, Helsingborgshem and Strängbetong have presented their first results and practical examples of how building materials can be reused.
The pilot is made of 99% reused material (by weight) and the carbon footprint is 92% lower when compared with the same building built with new material after today’s standards. In addition, the building is designed for disassembly, i.e., built in such a way that it can be dismantled and the elements reused in another context. For example, all-metal couplings between the elements are made to be easily disassembled.
The consortium meeting was executed with success and a plethora of viable comments and experiences stemming from each respective day of work. Moreover, as ReCreate keeps developing and the pilot projects are being executed, with the Swedish pilot as the best example, ReCreate project is being successful in exploring and harnessing the untapped potential of the existing markets for deconstruction and reuse of concrete elements without damaging them. The novel knowledge stemming from ReCreate will be disseminated by publishing joint public-private open access publications in high-impact international journals; by presenting the work in industry congresses and scientific conferences; and by turning it into open access e-learning content usable for educating and training a new generation of experts and employees with improved competencies in reuse.
In the middle of Drottninghög, researchers from KTH are building a pilot building in the form of a pavilion from recycled concrete. The building is part of the H22 City Expo fair, which takes place between 30 May and 3 July.
The building stands on a plot where a preschool previously stood. KTH researchers have been able to use the base plate from the preschool for the building, which is 8×22 meters wide, 4 meters high, and consists of a few hundred tons of concrete. The building consists of 99 percent recycled material.
”The production of new concrete is very resource-intensive and accounts for 3-4 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. By using recycled concrete in new buildings, emissions could be radically reduced.Our calculations show that by using recycled concrete in our pilot, we get a reduction of the carbon footprint by 96 percent compared to if we would have used new concrete. So this recycling of concrete points to a way forward.
Today, office properties are demolished from concrete that is perhaps 40 years old to make room for new homes. But that concrete has a much longer technical life than that, 100, 200, maybe up to 300 years as long as it is hot and dry. And if we are to access the carbon dioxide consumption in new buildings, we must have access to these heavy concrete frame elements.” – says Erik Stenberg, professor at the KTH University.
EU project on recycling of concrete elements
Professor Stenberg also leads the Swedish part of the EU project ReCreate – Reusing Precast concrete for a Circular Economy – whose purpose is to investigate how to reuse concrete elements in new buildings. The project, which is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, is led by the University of Tampere and the initiative also includes Eindhoven University of Technology and Brandenburg University of Technology.
Within the framework of the project, all four participating universities will produce two pilots – one digital and one physical. Unlike Tampere, Eindhoven and Brandenburg, KTH started with the physical pilot, the one that is now shown in Helsingborg, and will then make a digital one. The three partner universities’ first digital pilots can be viewed in the form of 3D-printed models of each donor building in KTH’s pavilion pilot.
There will also be descriptions of the various projects. But the exhibition’s focus is on Helsingborg and Drottninghög. Among other things, we present a project on recycling concrete in Drottninghög that some of our students at the School of Architecture worked on last autumn, says Erik Stenberg.
Challenge for architects
In addition to his role as leader for the Swedish part, he works with historical analyzes and a mapping of where concrete elements are, when and where they were built, in what form, by whom and for what. Two more KTH researchers are involved in the project – Kjartan Gudmundson from the Department of Sustainable Buildings and Tove Malmqvist from the Department of Sustainability, Evaluation and Governance, SEED.
Kjartan Gudmundson looks at issues such as quality assurance – concrete quality and the presence of hazardous substances – and digitization of historical and new information about concrete elements that can accompany them when they are used again, while Tove Malmqvist works with issues such as life cycle analysis, climate impact, business models, and regulations.
ReCreate project update – first milestone for WP3 delivered!
The first milestone of Work Package 3 of the ReCreate project (Screening, logistics and processing) has been delivered!
Effective management of information through digital workflows will facilitate the reuse of precast concrete elements, which is essential for this work package. With the delivery of this milestone, we have solutions for Common Data Environments (CDEs) for ReCreate that will enable effective storing and sharing of data that is captured and produced. This will be a guide towards progressing the use of CDE and effective exchange of information as ReCreate activities move towards more advanced digital workflows and methods of collaboration.
The work of this milestone includes a comparison of selected features of existing CDE solutions that we have conducted for commercial BIM-based CDEs as well as for well-known general purpose CDEs.
Further work will include support to the country clusters in adopting the CDE solution in ReCreate activities. The needs for improved workflows is a take-off point for further progress and maturity in working with open standards and higher levels of structured data. The benefits of BIM methodology and open data will ultimately result in greater efficiencies, productivity and synergies as the project continues.
Find out more on the ReCreate project at this year’s H22 City Expo!
Erik Stenberg, architect and senior lecturer in architecture at KTH – School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE) in Stockholm, answered a few questions on why reusing concrete is important in urban development projects.
Why is the reuse of concrete important?
– This is where the biggest environmental benefits can be made. If you access the concrete in the structure of houses, you can achieve the largest reduction in carbon dioxide.
Why is it important in urban development projects?
– It is becoming more and more important to look at the entire life cycle and carbon footprint of the entire urban development and not just individual buildings. We have to look at what was there before and what will come after. We need to make better use of the resources that are already above ground. Also, the historical dimension has nothing to do with carbon dioxide pollution, but with cherishing a legacy, taking advantage of what is good and building on it, and improving what needs to be improved.
What are the benefits of using reused concrete?
– This is exactly what we test in ReCreate. The thesis is that the concrete continues to harden during its lifespan and the technical lifetime is much longer than the service life of the buildings. Therefore, reused concrete should be better than new concrete both constructively and environmentally as we do not use and extract resources from the earth’s crust.
So concrete is made to last longer than the time we use it today?
– It lasts much longer. The concrete you usually see is the one that is exposed outwards to the external elements and it is usually hit harder by rain, weather, cold, or salts (depending on where it is) than concrete that has been sitting hot and dry. If the concrete is hot and dry, it lasts forever.
What opportunities do you see when it comes to reusing concrete?
– I look at the material and historical values and that we get a healthier discussion about how urban development should be done, and that we consume fewer resources when we build in the future. This is the biggest change that needs to happen, not just thinking ‘new’ all the time but rather that we take care of what we already have.
For at least half a century, concrete has been the world’s most used building material and, at the same time, accounts for the majority of both building materials and demolition waste and is carbon dioxide demanding. Despite its great potential, a very small part of the concrete is recycled. ”We want to change that in the ReCreate project!”, says Erik Stenberg – architect and senior architecture lecturer at the KTH School of Architecture and the built environment (ABE) in Stockholm.
ReCreate is an international EU-funded project that is led by KTH in Sweden, which, together with Helsingborgshem and Strängbetong, uses recycled concrete elements from, among other things, demolished houses in the residential area of Drottninghög in Helsingborg. The recycled concrete is then used as a building material in the Swedish project’s pilot which will be part of the city fair H22 City Expo in Helsingborg this summer.
”By reusing concrete elements and developing circular construction, it may be possible to reduce climate impact and waste volumes in the future. The project develops and examines the changes needed in the entire construction process when concrete is recycled; from demolition to the design of a new building and its dismantling, to see how it is possible to use all concrete elements or just parts of them in new buildings.” Erik Stenberg explains.
In January 2020, Helsingborgshem began demolishing three multi-family houses on Grönkullagatan on Drottninghög to make room for the new City Quarter. In connection with the demolition, concrete elements were dismantled and preserved, which have now been analyzed and recycled within the ReCreate project.
”We want to reduce both our climate impact and our waste volumes. Therefore, it feels important that we develop circular construction so that in the event of future demolition, we will hopefully be able to reuse concrete elements on a larger scale. During H22, we want to spread the knowledge and hope to inspire the real estate and construction industry to continue development in recycling”, says Christine Delander Eksten, project manager at Helsingborgshem.
As part of the H22 City Expo at Drottninghög, several proposals for the recycling of concrete elements will be presented.
”There will of course be a focus on how new buildings can be created with old concrete elements. We will present and show how the exhibition building itself has been built and we will have 3D-printed models of cutting-edge projects from our ReCreate colleagues in Finland, Germany, and the Netherlands on site. The next generation of architects from KTH have made student projects based on the recycled concrete elements from Drottninghög and its dimensions and conditions”, says Erik Stenberg.
Visit ReCreate and the H22 City Expo between May 30 and July 3. Welcome to Drottninghög!
The international City Expo at Drottninghög will take place from May 30 – to July 3, 2022, where the city of Helsingborg will be inviting the world to take part in the city’s sustainable and innovative social solutions. Helsingborgshem will be developing the area, along with the residents, the city of Helsingborg, and various other partners. The innovative and dialogue-based approach has generated international interest and during the H22 City Expo, you will be able to see the development on site. There will be a folk festival, food, experiences, lectures, music, and exhibitions. Welcome to Drottninghög and H22 City Expo this summer!
More on the ReCreate pilot project
ReCreate’s Swedish pilot project during the city fair H22 City Expo will be a small building that is only a stone’s throw from the center of Drottninghög. The pilot project consists of recycled concrete elements and other concrete parts and is built on a concrete slab where a preschool previously stood. The concrete comes from demolished houses in Drottninghög and other demolition properties in Helsingborg. Extruded concrete will also include the concrete parts that have been left over in their production and windows and doors that will be recycled from the preschool, while the amount of newly produced material in the pavilion will be limited. After H22, the pavilion will be dismantled as it was designed to be disassembled easily. The project is currently working on finding recipients who can reuse the different parts after H22 and is co-financed by EU Horizon 2020.
On the 7th of April, the ReCreate team of the AG Constructional Recycling of the BTU Cottbus met with the project partners at the location of the potential donor building Otto-Nuschke-Str. 9-14 (see photo 1) in Hohenmölsen for the 3rd German country cluster meeting, where Mr. Gottschling (Ecosoil GmbH) and the architect Mr. Dreetz were present as project partners.
Additionally, the mayor of the small-town Mr. Haugk and the chairman of WoBau Hohenmölsen GmbH (owner of the potential donor building) Mr. Luckanus also attended the meeting. After a discussion in the town hall on the possible realization of a (re)construction project with the used concrete elements and on the organization of the deconstruction itself, a possible building site (see photo 2) and the deconstruction object (donor building) in Otto-Nuschke-Str. were visited. On April 19, the gutting of the upper two floors of the residential building will begin and the scaffolding will be erected. From May 2 onwards, the partial deconstruction will be carried out by the company Ecosoil GmbH.
The BTU research team has begun to examine the condition of selected concrete elements intended for reuse in the installed position. In addition to geometric construction surveys, concrete compressive strength measurements were carried out using rebound hammers (see photo 3). The purpose of this is to evaluate the structural condition of the concrete elements, which are about 40 years old, so they’ll be able to make a statement on their reuse within the scope of the suitability test. The technical measurement investigations will be continued in April along with the involvement of students and finally, the concrete elements suitable for reuse will be marked.
Tampere University researchers from WP 7 in Finland visited KTH and the Swedish country cluster in Stockholm in October 2021
Two researchers, Linnea Harala and Lauri Alkki, from Tampere University Work Package 7 in Finland visited KTH and the Swedish country cluster in Stockholm in October 2021. The research of Work Package 7 focuses on the business aspects within ReCreate and the first research deliverable focuses on mapping the local ecosystems of concrete element reuse. The examination of these ecosystems was initiated in summer 2021 within the Finnish Country Cluster by research interviews and ethnographic follow-up. After we had gained a basic overview of the actors, their linkages and ecosystem structures within the Finnish country cluster, we expanded our ecosystem research activities to the Swedish country cluster.
During the research visit to Stockholm, Linnea and Lauri were warmly welcomed to KTH by the Swedish country cluster. This first research visit included formal and informal activities facilitating to get to know each other during meetings, campus tours and delicious lunches. The main research activities included research interviews with the key ecosystem actors and ethnographic follow-up on a reference project site visit and during the Swedish country cluster meeting. However, in addition to these research activities, networking and exchanging knowledge between the country clusters was also of great importance for the collaboration between the Finnish and Swedish country clusters.
ReCreate’s first cross-country cluster research visit exceeded our expectations and laid the groundwork for international future research collaboration within ReCreate. International collaboration was soon initiated as at the beginning of 2022 researchers from the Finnish country cluster started a joint research publication project together with researchers from the Swedish country cluster. This article aims to create an understanding of the concrete element reuse ecosystems in Finland and Sweden. All in all, this research visit was a great way to initiate cross-country cluster collaboration within ReCreate, exchange ideas and knowledge and ultimately improve ReCreate’s influence to maximize impact.
ReCreate project and Country cluster and work package 1 leader Erik Stenberg from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, are featured in The magazine Rum’s editorial staffs’ annual list of the 100 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐒𝐰𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐧! 🎉
Rum is a magazine about architecture, interior design, and design aimed at professional architects and designers or people with a special interest in these areas.
The first months within the ReCreate project brought forward a vital step in moving the project forward with the completion of its first Milestone within the Work Package 8 (Policy support and social acceptability).
The Milestone, developed by Tampere University, with Paul Jonker-Hoffrén as the main author, is the Fieldwork protocol, which ensures consistency and compatibility in data collection. The Fieldwork protocol focuses on the study of work in the circular economy, and its primary goal is to ensure consistency and compatibility in data gathering for Task 8.2.
Work package 8 includes fieldwork at the (de)construction sites as well as interviews with policymakers and other actors, with a specific focus on work and work processes. This fieldwork protocol is centred on creating a set of research steps that is useful for both observational fieldwork and interviews.
The ReCreate project has at its core four pilot projects, in which concrete elements are reused. The pilot projects are constructed at different phases of the project, due to the availability of the elements and the flow of the policy processes related to construction projects. The pilots are in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. The four countries are different in terms of policy environments and pilot projects. However different these pilot projects may be on the surface, on a different level employees and other workers face the same elementary problem of work: how to translate a given task into concrete actions. Experience and education form the basis for the practice of work.
The fieldwork protocol includes sections on ethnographic and interview methods specifically adapted to the research setting in ReCreate. Construction sites are potentially hazardous, therefore data collection should take into account the role of the researcher in maintaining workplace safety. Furthermore, the construction site has a specific rhythm and space, which the researcher should understand and respect.
These border conditions add to the understanding of work in the circular economy. Performing ethically sound data collection in the construction sector includes not only the regular privacy issues but also specifically consideration of work safety issues.