Erik Stenberg Archives | Recreate

January 18, 2023
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ARQ magazine, a non-profit architecture magazine published by Ediciones ARQ of the
School of Architecture at the Universidad Católica de Chile, published an article on the ReCreate project!

Swedish country cluster leader and esteemed professors Erik Stenberg and Jose Hernandez Vargas, along with our project coordinator and associate professor at Tampere University Satu Huuhka, shared their knowledge on the project and what it wants to achieve.

The article showcases the reasoning, as well as the historic and environmental context behind the idea for the ReCreate project, as well as the methodology and technology that underpin the project. Also, they give a breakdown of the pilot buildings, what were their functions before deconstruction and what elements will be gained from it.

But don’t take our word for it! You can check it out yourself by clicking on the link here!


November 7, 2022
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Leader of the ReCreate Swedish country cluster Erik Stenberg had another interview where he outlined the importance and advantages of the project.

The advantage of the concept is that the climate footprint and amounts of waste are radically reduced as it is much better to reuse entire elements than to grind down the concrete and use it as filling material, says Erik Stenberg.

THE STATE OF REUSING CONCRETE IN SWEDEN

Today, concrete elements are very rarely reused. At EU level, the figure is zero percent and in Sweden there are a few isolated examples. This is mainly because it is cheapest and easiest to build with new concrete. The business models for reuse do not exist and all parts of the construction sector are adapted to new materials, says Erik Stenberg. The goal of KTH researchers will be to examine the business chain for the reuse of concrete elements in the Swedish context and how it is affected by processes and regulations in the construction sector. Sweden actually has good conditions for reusing concrete elements because we built a lot with prefabricated concrete in the 1960s to 80s. Even if the elements are not manufactured to be taken apart and used again, according to Erik Stenberg, this is entirely possible.

ON THE SWEDISH PILOT SITE

The pavilion that the researchers built and displayed during H22 was a successful sub-project. The building consisted of 99 percent recycled material and the climate footprint had been reduced by 90 percent. The mistakes made gave the researchers new insights, for example that concrete must be handled carefully. The reuse also led to unexpected architectural solutions.

The elements were larger than we imagined, which resulted in a sturdier building. Solutions around doors and windows had to be adapted to this and the house’s pillars got a new design when they proved to be too heavy for the slab. Instead of being seen as obstacles, the limitations can contribute to interesting architecture, says Erik Stenberg.

Erik Stenberg also maintains a studio where students design buildings based on the concept in the research project. Erik Stenberg says that the students have shown that it is possible to design houses with good layouts and good light conditions from recycled concrete elements and that it is possible to design both row houses and point houses with elements from slatted houses.


October 5, 2022
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Erik Stenberg, a lecturer in architecture at the KTH School of Architecture and leader of the Swedish ReCreate country cluster, investigates the current practices of the reuse of precast concrete in the world.

He posits that offices with prefabricated concrete structures are the most common buildings that are demolished today, most often for housing construction, and that concrete from those demolished buildings is simply ground and that we create an unnecessarily big impact on the environment by doing so.

”When recycling, the product is changed and used for something else, or in the same area of use. When we are reusing, it is used once more in the same form and design.”

– “I’m afraid that someone will think that, like in Denmark, we will start grinding programs worth millions. It would be capital destruction because the houses are built with quality and will last at least another 150-200 years if they are dry and warm.” said Erik Stenberg.

According to him, Denmark also failed to meet the goal of reusing building elements in projects, in order to incorporate a better local history for residents, because the EU directive is that at least 70 percent of a building’s weight must be reused during demolition. However, in the Swedish ReCreate pilot study, the figure dropped to a staggering 99 percent!

He concluded that there were some mistakes in the project, but now they know where the obstacles lie in the construction permit phase, how access and quality can be ensured, and how the concrete elements can be reassembled, which enables an immediate reduction of carbon dioxide in new production.


June 10, 2022
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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.


April 29, 2022
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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.





EU FUNDING

“This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 958200”.

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