Takes on Architecture, part III: Sustainability


Photo by ADEPT

The Harbour Houses designed by ADEPT.


Photo by ADEPT

The Harbour Houses designed by ADEPT.


Photo by Mikkel Frost

The Children's home of the future by CEBRA.


Photo by Mikkel Frost

A children's home designed by CEBRA.


Photo by Adam Mørk

The Maersk Tower designed by C.F. Møller.


In this series, DANISH™ asks a group of experts to elaborate on different architectural parameters. In this third instalment, Danish architecture firms CEBRA, ADEPT and C.F. Møller detail their philosophy on sustainability in architecture.

Photo by ADEPT

Anders Lonka
Partner, ADEPT

Common greenhouses on the roof tops, adjacent terraces overlooking the bay of Aarhus and a sheltered green courtyard, this is the essence of the ‘Harbour Houses’ we designed – a new residential complex situated in the port of Aarhus, which breaks with both the port’s massive scale and presents iconic building tendencies. The project consists of 262 public dwellings comprising 83 apartments for families and seniors aged over 55 and 179 student-housing units.

The settlement is a ‘zero-energy building,’ which, with its solar panels and greenhouses, takes huge steps towards meeting its future energy requirements. Among the sustainable initiatives applied in Harbour Houses are thermal heating from 21 vertical and 150 m deep drillings, hybrid panels combining solar panels and solar collectors, five heat pumps and several energy wells. Additionally, grey waste water is collected and recycled, making up almost 60 % of the building’s energy consumption. Both the façade and materials were carefully designed to meet the highest building and environmental standards. At the same time, we managed to build the dwellings within the allocated budget, which allows the rents to be very competitive, even among the cheapest on a comparable market.


Photo by Mikkel Frost

Mikkel Frost
Founding Partner, CEBRA

We’ve gone through a number of different phases in our company development when it comes to sustainability. First, we went through a phase whereby we were very interested in sustainable solutions and in applying an overall sustainable approach. We saw sustainability as an inevitable design parameter, but then we were surpassed by legislation that demanded strict sustainable features in projects, so we could no longer stand out just by being sustainable. Now everyone was engaged in it and so no one was unique by doing it. That made us silent when it comes to sustainability, which commercially is a little like fire safety – no one sells a building due to the fact that it’s protected against fire; it just is. That’s just the new normal and is expected now.

Now, we’ve had quite a few projects abroad, where sustainability is not yet a great part of the agenda in that area’s building industry. At the same time, our experience of sustainability has shown us its many faces, because being sustainable in Denmark does not necessarily imply the same materials will be sustainable in Saudi Arabia, for example. Therefore, to us, sustainability is a state of mind that you have to bring along to all projects.


Photo by Adam Mørk

Julian Weyer
Partner, C.F. Møller

The Maersk Tower is a showcase of sustainable design through intelligent architecture. It is a state-of-the-art research building for The University of Copenhagen, with a clever design that minimises the energy consumption needed for cooling the inside of the building through a triangular design, with one tip of the triangle pointing at the sun when warmest during the day to reduce the impact of heat from the sun. Also, the innovative shutters on the façade follow the movement of the sun during the day, blocking direct sunlight but allowing diffuse daylight and transparency from the inside.


In this series:

Takes on Architecture, part I: Proportions
Takes on Architecture, part II: The Inflow of Daylight
Takes on Architecture, part III: Sustainability
Takes on Architecture, part IV: Minimalism

Companies mentioned in this article

The goal of DANISH™ is to promote Danish architecture and design in a broad perspective, and demonstrate all the potentials in these fields.

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