Urbanization is taking place all over the world, increasing the demand for housing. This means that an estimated 60 % of the new urban areas needed in 2030 have not yet been built. Also, waste from the building industry represents a huge untapped resource, and upcycling and retrofitting of building materials are a much needed approach to building when aiming to reduce CO2 emissions.
Upcycle Studios has been designed with the mission to construct a residential area built by upcycled and local waste materials without compromising on aesthetics, quality or price. The vision was to minimize the total carbon footprint of housing by reusing waste such as residual wood, crushed concrete and windows from old buildings. Upcycle Studios is a sustainable Scandinavian townhouse solution located in Ørestad, in the periphery of Copenhagen, Denmark. The houses are constructed of upcycled concrete, glass and wood, and are built on market conditions and designed for scalability.
When buildings are renovated, the healthy windows either end up as landfill or the glass is crushed and melted for new purposes, using a lot of energy. The team therefore decided to use old windows, with wooden and not aluminum frames, which according to the team saved them up to 95% CO2 in the production process. To meet the modern isolation standards, the huge windows in the building consist of two-layer recycled double-glazing. Also, the wooden floors, walls and facades are produced from offcuts and surplus wood from the Danish wooden flooring company Dinesen. The homes have been created with a large degree of flexibility, making them suitable for a diverse group of potential residents and robust in changing markets – and social life conditions.
The interdisciplinary team has succeeded in developing upcycled, aesthetic materials from the early beginning and all the way to commercial implementation, and the project has the potential to change the perception of reuse and upcycling in the building industry and among consumers.