Realdania By og Byg has developed, built and communicated this project as a tangible example of what everybody is talking about within resource efficiency, upcycling.

Upcycling is the process in which waste materials or useless products are transformed into new materials or products with a higher utility-value, leading to a reduction in production and consumption – globally speaking.

Upcycle House is built with a construction budget of 1,7 million DKK, which in addition to making it accessible for most Danish families demonstrates how the principle of upcycling is economically advantageous. The house is located on a plot in Nyborg, Fyn, where Realdania By og Byg has gathered a series of experimental single-family houses.


Private House

140 m²

Nyborg, Denmark


Realdania By og Byg


Egen Vinding og Datter






Partner in charge: Anders Lendager

Project Leader: Anders Lendager

Team: Rune Sjöstedt Sode, Christoffer Carlsen, Jenny Haraldsdottir, Anna Zobel


The single-family house has been chosen for two reasons, the manageable scale, economy and last but not least, a short building time, enabling the building to be realized while the debate and discussions on sustainable building still are fresh and relevant. The single-family house also works well as an object for communicating a message, because this typology not only interests people within the industry, because most people have some sort of relation to or thoughts about this kind of building.

Upcycle House has been built on a subplot that is part of a larger area that is being developed by Realdania By og Byg to showcase different approaches to sustainable building practice. A location in a smaller town such as Nyborg means that the architecture of the house to a greater extent must have a common appeal both functionally and architecturally, despite the radical construction concept.


    The project has been approached and designed through sustainable measures. Due to the economic limits, utilization and optimization of the passive abilities of the house has been a major focus. Therefore Upcycle House is essentially designed according to orientation, thermal adaption summer / winter, location of functions/zones, enhancement of daylight, spatial heights, etc.

    The main focus in Upcycle House is everyday life and daily activities – especially regarding activities in the kitchen and bathroom that usually are associated with resource consumption. These have been thought through and made more efficient. In the same manner planning of the garden incorporates a minimal burdening of the sewers, the possibility of composting and of cultivating fruits and vegetables – and by collecting rainwater, the need for tapping potable water is diminished.


      Upcycling is the natural next step after the focus there has been on buildings energy consumption during the operational phase. Now attention is being focused on the energy and resource consumption of the production and transport of the building materials seen in an entire product lifetime perspective. Upcycle House strives to have a minimal CO2 footprint, because CO2 emissions are one of the main culprits regarding global warming.

      The choice of materials has not only reduced CO2 emissions, it has also had a significant impact on the indoor climate. Upcycle House shows how different spatial needs can be solved to the highest level of comfort. This includes minimizing the amount of volatile organic compounds in the air, which the acoustics are the best possible that natural light is used in the most intelligent way, and that surfaces are easy to maintain and clean. Another aspect in the choice of materials is how certain materials through their inherent properties can give an impression of having a higher temperature, thereby reducing the need for winter heating. For example by choosing wood instead of stone for flooring.


        The house covers 100m2, and can from its conception be used by a family with two children, but it can easily be adapted to different phases of life, family constellations and uses. Therefore we sought to make it possible to use the house for contemporary family life (that can consist of both ‘your’, ‘mine’ and ‘our’ children).

        Before the financial crisis, society was driven by consumption. It still is, but the amount has in some cases be reduced drastically, or people have started to reconsider how they consume and what this means. We now see more focus on resourcefulness, reducing CO2-emissions, self-sustainability etc. ‘Staying in’ is the new ‘going out’.


          The most significant reused and upcycled material in Upcycle House are the shipping containers that are in great surplus because of the uneven import/export balance between the West and Asia. These empty containers pile up in European harbours and can be bought cheaply. The containers are not seen as spaces in themselves, rather as constructive elements whose hollow structure can be used as part of the spatial disposition.

          The financial frame of 1,7 million DKK shows that upcycling not only saves resources, it also makes the finished product significantly cheaper. This ensures both social and economical sustainability.