By Mario Kolkwitz
The life-cycle extension of buildings through refurbishment, renovation and adaptation is of highest priority in a circular and waste-preventive built environment. To improve the rate at which such activities take place there is a need to understand the drivers of replacement and the prerequisites that buildings have to enable adaptation.
CIRCuIT partners in Copenhagen, London, Hamburg and Vantaa (Helsinki region) undertook a research exercise to identify buildings at risk of demolition in each city and assess their potential to adapt and transform. In this report, they present their findings and give insights into the individual methodological approaches they used to aid other cities striving to become more circular to achieve their goals.
Due to significant differences in data availability, the cities developed a number of approaches which focused on either the city- or neighbourhood level. The partners in Hamburg, for example, mapped buildings within the city that might become – based on past replacement patterns – target of demolition in the future. Vantaa picked up on a similar approach and combined it with a study of past building transformation activities in order to identify whether already common practices allow the shift towards an adaptation-focused model. The work done in London and Copenhagen includes stakeholder knowledge to substitute for gaps in the cities’ hard data. Hence, their work covers a wider range of approaches reaching from decision making tools to a framework in which buildings are categorized by their capability to transform. The variety in the different approaches highlights the relevance of performing context-specific case studies but also forms a good methodological foundation for other cities to draw from and build on.
This report can be helpful not only for urban decision makers towards better informed, sustainable planning choices, but also for private property owners aiming to manage their real-estate portfolio in a circular manner. Generally, different urban and legislative contexts require different approaches while multi-method studies were found to significantly reduce shortcomings inherent to singular methodologies. Above all, the four cities found that data availability is key to successful urban research. Cities need to drastically improve in gathering data specifically for demolition.
During the next steps of the CIRCuIT research project, the partner cities will develop transformative design strategies that will help to guide planners and architects to utilize the newly gained knowledge from the work presented in this report.
Download the report below.