Build less, transform more

The current challenges in the construction industry require a rethink in the planning and execution of construction projects. The focus is on sustainability and climate protection.

The UN Environment Programme (Unep), for example, has drawn up a calculation that illustrates the problem: rapid global urbanisation means that buildings the size of the city of Paris are being added every five days. 

The construction sector contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, causing around 37% of emissions according to Unep and is a major factor in climate change. One ambitious goal is to make the construction sector climate-neutral by 2050.

Instead of developing new land, experts are in favour of converting existing buildings and reusing them sensibly. In order to build as climate-neutrally and resource-efficiently as possible, additional efforts should be made to produce building materials such as steel and concrete as CO2-free as possible and to use more renewable raw materials such as wood or bamboo, which turn buildings into CO2 reservoirs.

Lighting can also make a significant contribution to conserving resources, e.g. through economical LED luminaires and intelligent lighting control.

Sammode's luminaires with their industrial aesthetics fit perfectly into contemporary design and emphasise the industrial character of old factory or railway buildings, while at the same time making a contribution to more sustainable construction.

© Photo: Steven Neukirch - Architect: hks architekten

Central heating in the old Erfurt combined heat and power plant

The building, which is over 125 years old, originally served as a rifle factory, then as a sewing machine factory and finally as a heating plant. Instead of leaving the venerable building to decay, the Thüringer Entwicklungsgesellschaft decided to renovate the listed building. Today, it houses an innovative concept that combines culture and commerce with event locations, a flat hotel, a restaurant and offices.

The refurbishment by hks architekten and the award-winning, adaptive new use of the heating plant are convincing proof that the preservation of the architectural heritage and the constructive further development of the existing building always deserve a chance before careless and irrevocable demolitions destroy further parts of our cultural identity.

In line with the guiding principle "Old remains old - what's the minimum requirement?", the architects have implemented a refurbishment concept that radically and unadulteratedly intensifies and visualises the characteristics of the existing building fabric.

The industrial luminaires from Sammode were specifically selected for the old building and emphasise the building's industrial past.

The project was awarded the Otto Borst Prize in 2022. The award for urban regeneration recognises refurbishment projects that carefully develop the historic urban fabric.

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