ReCreate Archives | Recreate

January 18, 2023
pexels-pixabay-7931-1280x853.jpg

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!


January 11, 2023
evan-demicoli-CZSH7Z5eOJo-unsplash-1280x853.jpg

ReCreate German Country Cluster leader Prof. Angelika Mettke was interviewed for an article in the regional daily newspaper Lausitzer Rundschau and for an online report of the ARD Tagesschau, in which she presented an already realized reuse project in Kolkwitz as well as the plans for the ReCreate research project. In addition to Prof. Mettke, the deconstruction company ECOSOIL (industrial partner in the German ReCreate Cluster) was also interviewed for the newspaper article. The title “Lausitz gives new life to old slabs” refers to the Lausitz region, where Cottbus is located and the BTU and ECOSOIL are based.

Both articles first present the sports clubhouse in Kolkwitz near Cottbus. In 2009, the building project was realized using used concrete elements. The used concrete elements were recovered from a prefabricated slab building from GDR times that was located in Cottbus. ECOSOIL was commissioned with both the deconstruction of the 8-story slab building and the construction of the new building. Prof. Mettke from BTU designed the construction project together with the future users and accompanied the implementation of the project scientifically with her team of employees. Based on the process recordings for the deconstruction and the reuse of the concrete elements, the savings in resources and greenhouse potential were calculated in comparison to a conventional design.

The (re)construction project serves the BTU and ECOSOIL as a reference for an implementation possibility and what is feasible, with concrete elements suitable for reuse. ECOSOIL has become the market leader in the careful element-oriented deconstruction of prefabricated buildings, while the BTU has become an initiator and consultation partner for (re-) construction projects.

In addition, Prof. Mettke and Axel Bretfeld (Managing Director of ECOSOIL) presented the ReCreate project and the European partnerships with the Finnish, Swedish and Dutch clusters. The goals and tasks of the project were outlined in the articles as well as an outlook on the planned German pilot project of a youth center in the city of Hohenmölsen.


January 3, 2023
You-have-the-power-to-protect-your-peace..png

The success of the ReCreate project would not be possible without the expertise of people that stand behind it. Our first interviewee is Satu Huuhka – the project coordinator and the person most responsible for its inception. Ivan Fratrić of the Croatia Green Building Council will be conducting the interview. Here is her story:

 

I: Hi Satu! Can you introduce yourself a bit, tell us about your background, your role, as well as the role of your organization in the project?

Satu: I’m an associate professor of sustainable renovation at Tampere University School of Architecture. Tampere University is coordinating the organization and implementation of the project and I’m the scientific coordinator and basically the project is my brainchild as ReCreate was born of my initiative. I’m originally an architect and the topic of my masters degree was regarding the reuse of concrete or reusing different kinds of building parts and materials, but with a special focus on precast concrete. Interestingly, the inspiration for my masters thesis came from a relative of mine who sent me newspaper clippings of topics that I would possibly be interested in and one of those clippings was on the topic of reuse in Germany which I found the most intriguing and which incidentally described the work of professor Angelika Mettke who has worked on the topic for 20 years at that time and who would eventually join the leadership here on ReCreate.  As for the idea for the project, it began with my colleague Jukka Lahdensivu who is the Work Package 4 leader and eventually ended up as multidisciplinary research, not just architectural and civil engineering, and employing a more holistic approach. My university supports preparing and coordinating proposals so I received a little grant to start building the consortium. Then we traveled to meet people from KTH and other organizations with whom we had previous contact and that we knew had suitable expertise to join the project. That’s how it started. 

 

I: What was your initial idea when forming the consortium? What was the reasoning behind structuring it the way it is? How was the idea for the project received by the partners?

Satu: The idea for the country clusters was present from the beginning and was influenced by another project we are involved in which is called CIRCuIT which is coordinated by the city of Copenhagen but we’re a partner and a WP leader. I think that worked well in CIRCuIT and it made sense for ReCreate because we’re working with buildings, and construction is quite a local activity. It made sense to find universities to be country cluster leaders as they have the capacity to handle the management side of things, the bureaucracy, as well as because of their connections to the local organizations and industry partners that would address this issue in their countries. Everybody was really positive when they heard about the idea for the project and they immediately wanted to be on board, especially the universities. There was some difficulty with industrial partners as we had some talks with organizations that weren’t interested in the end, but our connections enabled us to find partners that wanted to be part of the project. 

 

I: In essence, the universities immediately saw the potential of the project, while the industry needed more nudging in that direction.

Satu: The core activity of universities is research and development, but I think that industry partners were a bit weary of the bureaucracy which these projects entail. That is also why it was important to have these universities at the core of the country clusters to help the companies with the bureaucracy and to take the load off reporting away from companies as much as possible.

 

I: Of course, so they can focus on the development and implementation of the project.

Satu: Exactly, yes

 

I: Returning back to you. You said that the project is your brainchild and that it is personally very important to you. Why do you think, on a broader scale, the project is important and what is its ultimate goal?

Satu: It goes without saying that climate change is an issue, along with other environmental issues such as diminishing availability of sand and gravel in some locations. I think that now there’s a consensus in the construction sector that there’s need for change in the way how we’re building. Many European countries are even introducing legislation that requires low-carbon building – and not just with regards to the energy in operation. It is starting to be realized in the construction sector that manufacturing the materials for construction is also carbon intensive and that reusing building parts such as precast concrete helps to reduce that embodied carbon because in that case you don’t need to produce new material as you can just harvest existing elements from buildings that have been slated for demolition, which presents huge potential to cut embodied emissions as professor Mettke’s research has shown, and that’s the reason why we should look into reuse as concrete is used widely and is very carbon intensive as its a heavy material. 

Satu Huuhka

 

I: You’ve mentioned the potential for the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the depletion of raw materials. Do you have any other aspects of the project that you personally find most exciting and compelling?

Satu: I’d say its the multidisciplinary approach that we have. It’s fantastic that we have all these experts in their respective fields, which includes practical experts of the industry partners.  The fact that we have these pilot buildings is also really important as I found through my own research that we have reached the limit on what we can do alone as researchers without actually trying it in practice. Since now we have these pilot buildings, our experts can really put their thought into it and what can become reality eventually – not just in the construction aspect, but also in business, the environmental impact, the social impact and how work is changing, what are the architectural implications are, what it means for logistics and digitalization. Seeing all these experts work together is really inspirational for me as I feel that we’re really making a step forward with reuse thanks to all of their expertise. 

 

I: There’s no lack of exciting aspects to the project, but its sheer scope and complexity surely brings some sort of challenges with it. In your view, what is the most challenging aspect of ReCreate?

Satu: Before we started, I already had a preconception that we might have a conflict of interest between the partners or that maybe there would be a risk that the industrial partners would change their minds on whether this is something worth pursuing, but these concerns were not realized at all. All the partners are really invested. The most challenging aspect actually is aligning the ReCreate project timeline with the real world building project timeline, because we don’t want to do something that isn’t really needed as we’d like for the pilots to be buildings that would stay, which is not the case with the Swedish pilot, but in principle, we would like the buildings to stay, so we need these real world collaborations outside of the project to find suitable building projects. That has been a challenge in many locations and we are still working on it. The timelines of building projects are variable – sometimes things happen quickly and in other cases things can stop for years and can then be picked up again eventually. 

 

I: Do you think that negative impact is short-termed or that it could create further issues down the line?

Satu: It’s more about the moment we’re in as it reminds us here in Europe that it’s important for us to be self – sufficient with building materials to mitigate these supply chain uncertainties in the global geopolitical landscape, which also then creates a strong argument for reusing materials that we have here at home.

 

I: We’ve touched upon it a bit, but I wanted to hear more from your perspective. The ReCreate project entails four different pilots, from four different countries, with a multitude of organizations and companies involved. How do you handle the coordination of all of that as it must be a challenge in itself?

Satu: It is challenging and I’m really lucky that I don’t have to do it alone. Soili Pakarinen’s help as the administrative coordinator is really valuable because she helps everybody with the financial reporting and the country cluster leaders (the universities) are my main contact point to the industrial partners in the other countries and vice versa as sometimes there are language issues as it’s easier for people to operate in their own languages. It is a team effort and Soili, the country cluster leaders, as well as work package leaders are very valuable. So basically I’m not alone because I’m surrounded and helped by brilliant people.

 

I: The project is really ambitious and we’ll definitely have something exciting to show at the end of it. How do you see the future of the ReCreate project? What kind of impact would you like for the project to have?

Satu: I hope that the industrial partners will be able to integrate the ReCreate approach into their daily business activities and that they will be able to provide these goods, services and expertise. That is our main pathway to impact – that these products and services become available on the market through our industrial partners. I’m also dedicated to keep helping them through new projects if there are still things that remain to be developed. Personally, I’m prepared to help other companies that want to engage in similar projects. Of course, there are also open access documents and publication that will be available for scientists, industry people and even regular people interested in the topic.

 

I: Thank you Satu for the interview. To end on a more personal note – who is Satu Huuhka and what does she like to do in her free time when she’s not managing the ReCreate project?

Satu: I’m a very work-oriented person but sometimes I do other things in my free time. I like to cook, read detective stories like good-old Agatha Christie. When I have more time, I like to do something with my hands. For example, I live in a traditional wooden Finnish house and I do the conservation work with my husband. Things like window conservation and new felt roofing on the outhouse, as well as furniture conservation.

Satu Huuhka

 


December 8, 2022
evo-je2-1280x960.jpg

At the site of the imposing Belem Cultural Center in Lisboa, we had our first review meeting with the ReCreate project advisor from the European Commission.

At the meeting, each work package leader had the opportunity to present their project achievements made in the past year and a half and to receive feedback from our project advisor Susaná Xara and Elena Granados Menéndez – the external expert architect assigned to the meeting.

Review meeting
ReCreate project WP leaders with representatives from EU Commission

Also, the ReCreate review meeting participants had the privilege to see the Terra exhibition at the Lisbon Architectural Triennale 2022, which, in their own words, looks into communities throughout the world that embrace our common home, planet Earth and how do resource depletion, socio-economic inequalities, and climate alter-actions intertwine at different scales. The exhibition is a call to action inspired by shared local insights from around the globe with the potential to transform the current fragmented linear system of cities-as-machines into a circular holistic model of cities-as-organisms.

We were proud to see that the ReCreate project was also part of the exhibition, which was presented to the consortium, as well as the wider architectural community by our own Erik Stenberg.

Review meeting

At the end, we managed to meet each other in person, which also granted us a greater opportunity to increase coordination and create stronger connections.


November 7, 2022
blpqlefi-1280x720.png

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
6-rivning-dark-1280x895.jpg

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.


September 21, 2022
featured-image.png

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:

ReCreate ReCreateReCreate


June 10, 2022
recreate_toppbild.jpg

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.


lyfter-vagg-01-1280x690.jpg

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!


April 29, 2022
Erik_Stenberg_KTH_tak_Foto_Hanna_Kalla-1280x960.jpg

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”.

Follow us: