Thursday 23 February 2017

Copenhagen Part II - Designing our future

Our second day in the beautiful city of Copenhagen started with a hearty Danish breakfast at our Tivoli Hotel, offering anything you could want, including smoked salmon, cheese and meats, hot eggs and bacon, and gorgeous yoghurt and fruits - this would hopefully keep us going for a while. Today was my actual birthday and we decided to walk across the river and onto Christianshavn, one of the city’s prettiest quarters, and also home to the world renowned restaurant Noma. Ooh, birthday lunch I thought… alas, they seem to have lost our reservation… Haha! At over £300 per head, I think this one will have to wait awhile… though, following in Justin’s hero, chef Rick Stein’s footsteps, he had his photo taken in front of the building, that will have to do for now!

Walking along the river we came across the Danish Architecture Centre (DAC), a very interesting museum asking “how does architecture address challenges such as climate change, urbanisation and social segregation?” Using the city as their main exhibition, guided tours illustrate why Copenhagen and other Danish cities are praised around the world for their visionary way of combining liveability, growth and sustainability – surely topics that every country should have high on their agendas for the future. Even though we didn’t go on a tour… one of the many reasons to go back in the summer… we did see a fantastic exhibition called Wasteland – from Waste to Architecture in which architectural practice, the Lendager Group takes a look at how waste can create new architecture and even become a new resource in its own right. 
Courtesy of Kristina Neel at DAC
This upcycling process doesn’t just re-use materials as you would in recycling, but forms the basis for new, improved materials, often lengthening the life span of both products. For instance, by mixing new concrete with old, recycled concrete, you can make the material stronger than ever. Or, rather than trying to recycle house bricks one by one where often the mortar is stronger than the actual brick, they suggest cutting out a whole piece of wall as one unit and re-using it as a panel.

Throughout the exhibition there were some pretty frightening facts about world growth - did you know that the world's population is growing by five school classes per minute, or that it took only three years (2011-2013) for China to use more concrete that the USA used in the entire 20th century? It should be pretty obvious that our planet can not sustain this growth, and something has to change! Look at the housing crisis we have in the UK alone! Sorry, I’m getting a little passionate now, but this exhibition really did open our eyes, though maybe this is also because we’ve always been excited by modern, or different design, and some of the ideas that were featured made from upcycled materials were just genius!
Courtesy of Kristina Neel at DAC

The exhibition is themed around six different materials, including glass, wood, concrete and plastic. First we see the materials as by-products, then we follow their transformation into new materials, new buildings, and even new urban spaces.

One of my favourite ideas was this textured wall made from  different sized strips of wood attached to a frame. It is then treated to create this beautiful panel that I would love to have in my home! This is another factor that the Lendager Group focuses on, not only how to use waste as a potential resource, but also how to make these resources architecturally and aesthetically attractive. After all, waste is certainly a resource we will never run out of, and if smart and daring designers can come up with beautiful, practical and comfortable homes that we would happily live in, then this must be the way forward...

I have had a quick look to see if there are many UK initiatives following this idea, I found a couple of blogs about reupholstering chairs and repainting household items, but much of this is seen as more of an artform, with many pieces costing more than the original item, I don’t think this is the answer. This interesting post on Sustainable Build highlights the problems in the UK’s construction industry, such as the lack of information on sourcing and how to use these products in design, and also the cost of deconstructing a building rather than the cheaper option to demolish and destroy. I see so many boarded-up old houses where I live, and it makes me sick to see them just sitting there empty when we’re in such need for housing, both social and private. Yet the current answer seems to build inefficient box houses that all look the same, have no character or design, and call themselves four-bed detached dream homes.

Wow, this is supposed to be a quilting blog!! Apologies for going off-topic this week, I just felt our adventure in design and our discoveries had to be shared! This week I'm at my first quilt show of the year, the Spring Quilt Festival at Harrogate - I hope to see you there!

1 comment:

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