The circular economy and upcycling solutions, where waste is transformed into something new and better, are starting to take off around the world. Here’s Anders Lendager’s guide to sustainable buildings in Denmark and the rest of the world.

Copenhagen Towers, Copenhagen

“We have covered the interior surfaces of this modern, sustainable office building and hotel in Ørestad with upcycled materials. Waste wood from window frames, old doors, flooring and scaffolding is used to create modern wall panels, while the floor is upcycled concrete that looks almost like natural stone. The building also has a groundwater-based heating and cooling system, which reduces energy consumption by 90%.”

Ørestads Boulevard 114, København

De Ceuvel, Amsterdam

“What was once contaminated land in Amsterdam Noord has been a unique sustainable pilot area since 2014, where houseboats destined for demolition have been brought onto dry land and turned into social and creative offices and workshops. The contaminated land was cleaned up using a special combination of plants and there’s now sustainable energy use and water consumption, as well as composting toilets. There’s a very special atmosphere as you walk among the boats on paths made from bamboo and through the tall grass, which gives a sensation of the sea.”

Korte Papaverweg

Mini-CO2-husene, Nyborg

“Six single-family houses by six different firms of architects, which each reduce the building’s CO2 footprint in their own way. The first house in the row is our Upcycle House, which is built entirely using upcycled materials, with the construction process emitting 86% less CO2 than the construction of a conventional single-family house of the same size. The flooring is made from corks and offcuts from furniture factories, the insulation is made from paper wool and recycled glass and the façade is made from recycled aluminum from beer and soda cans. All the construction elements can also be disassembled and reused once the building reaches the end of its lifetime.”

Steensager 2-12, Nyborg

Seattle University, Washington, USA

“At this award-winning university, they have opted for sustainability at every turn. Sustainability forms part of the teaching here and is incorporated in everything from construction materials to energy consumption and compostable packaging in the organic cafeteria. Green food waste from the canteen is recycled as compost in the university’s gardens and the students even run an urban farm on campus.”

901 12th avenue, Seattle, WA

Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg, Tyskland

“This is an example of how to create a hypermodern construction by reusing the original shell, instead of tearing it down. Herzog & de Meuron’s wave-topped glass construction sits above an old warehouse building that once stored cocoa, tea and tobacco, and it represents both cutting-edge design and a unique connection between the city’s cultural life and its history as a port.”

Ningbo History Museum, Zhejiang, Kina

“Perkins+Will’s sustainable prestige building of 2015 occupies over 44,500m2, making it one of China’s largest museums.  Not only is the museum incredibly beautiful, it’s also a bioclimatic building that uses a range of energy-saving techniques. These include using energy from the ground for heating and cooling, collecting rainwater from the green roof to use for the pond outside and optimizing and reducing daylight using an electronic shade filter.”

1000 Shounan Middle st, YinZhou, Ningbo, Zhejiang Sheng, Kina, 315100

This article is written by Lise Hannibal and was featured in SAS’ magazine ‘Scandinavian Traveller’  on March 28, 2017.