The Swan

First Eco Labeled Upcycled Kindergarten

Imagine a world where building materials are recirculated. Imagine if we could build our new buildings using the materials from the buildings we demolish? And imagine the new both saves CO2, materials and results in healthy buildings that don’t cost more? With the Swan we achieved just that.

In 100 years we have gone from reusing most building materials to using primarily new materials, because it is cheaper and easier to handle.


The Swan kindergarten is a gamechanger. It is the building using the largest percentage of recycled/upcycle materials which according to Ecolabelling Denmark makes it one of the most innovative building projects right now. It is built using the materials of the old school on the site. As integrated part of the eco-labeled and healthy building- and design process, we have developed and implemented the processes needed to map, recover, upcycle and reuse building materials directly on site. The processes have been included in the industry recommendations for circular economy in the built environment.

The starting point of the project was a thorough pre-demolition mapping of the materials in the existing buildings of Gladsaxe Old School on site. This process enabled the recovery of materials as part of the demolition.

This goal oriented and lean process was realized in close cooperation with a series of stakeholders including the client and demolishers. It materialized in a new tender process for a sustainable demolition, which was applauded by the Danish Association of Construction Clients (DACC) for being a valuable example of promoting and implementing circularity in the building industry. The demolishers are usually the last people an architect want to talk to, because it means end of life of the building. Here the conversations became the starting point of the design process. The outcome of this positive disruption was new methods and industry standards to qualify used building materials for upcycling based on existing standards which will save large quantities of resources moving forward.

Sustainable Impact


  • Nominated for Danish Design Award 2022


  • Creating a healthy Eco-labled institution by reusing local materials and referencing local history


  • New tender process for selective demolition
  • Upcycled wood, tiles, steel and interior


  • 2.4% CO2 reduction
  • 100% reuse of roof tiles
  • 6000 tonnes of reused concrete
  • Saving 6,278 metric tonnes of materials and 177,668 kgs of CO2 in the process


  • Knowledge platform created about circular construction
  • Helping client to reach SDG goals
  • Established client as a front runner in circular economy

‘We are incredibly proud to have the world’s first circular kindergarten. It will also be Gladsaxe’s third Nordic Swan Eco-labelled institution and once again put Gladsaxe on the climate world map’

Trine Græse

Mayor, Gladsaxe

‘In order to demolish and build sustainably, one must focus on the amount of waste, the use of new materials, limiting CO2 emissions, minimizing the use of chemicals and environmentally hazardous substances in our building materials. At the same time, you have to create some buildings that are exciting with a good layout, in- and outside, for users and citizens.’

Helen Glindvad Kristensen

Project Manager, Gladsaxe Municipality

‘Upcycling gives the new institution invaluable gains because it gets its very own narrative right from the start. Parents who have attended Gladsaxe School themselves will for example be able to recognize the clock from the schoolyard in the orangery, and the dome from the school’s observatory which will be a playhouse on the playground.’

Jan Rasmussen

Team Manager, Gladsaxe Municipality

  • Svanen_Opslalt_Nord
  • Svanen_Opstalt_vest
  • Svanen_planer
  • Svanen_Snit_A-A