Category Archives: Scandinavia

BIG’s hilly courtyard tops a new gym

The following post is by DJC staff:

The Danish architecture firm BIG with CG Jensen + EKJ + Grontmij said it has completed a new multipurpose hall for Bjarke Ingels’ former high school north of Copenhagen. The project turned a courtyard into a new gathering point above an underground sports facility.
The space can be used for sports, graduation ceremonies and social events.

Photo by Jens Lindhe

Architect Bjarke Ingels says he considers the roof a giant piece of informal furniture.

BIG said in a press release the new hall is 16 feet below grade to ensure a good indoor climate and reduce its environmental impact. It is formed by beveled concrete walls and covered by a vaulted wooden roof made of curved glued laminated timber beams.

The roof functions as an interior and exterior skin, creating a hilly courtyard that can accommodate a number of activities from group work to larger gatherings.

The exterior surface is untreated oak and white enamel-coated steel benches that were designed by BIG. The only light sources at night come from the benches and seating, which are outfitted with LED lights underneath that brighten the entire courtyard.

The edge of the roof is a long bench with a lattice design that brings in daylight below. Solar panels around the buildings heat the hall.

Bjarke Ingels said, “Rather than placing the hall outside the school — and spread the social life further — we have created a new focal point and link between the school’s existing facilities. The roof forms a molehill that serves as a giant piece of informal furniture engaging and supporting student life.

“The main architectural idea emerged from the rules of handball as the soft, curved roof takes its form from the mathematical equation of the trajectory of a thrown ball. Form follows function. In an homage to my old math teacher, we used the mathematical formula for a ballistic arc to shape the geometry of the roof.”

A future phase will connect the courtyard and hall with sports fields and parking, and provide space for art classes and cultural activities.

BIG — Bjarke Ingels Group — describes itself as an international partnership of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development.

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Skanska’s Seattle development division bodes well for sustainability

One of the hottest real estate stories of the week is the news that Skanska is bringing its commercial development division to Seattle, signifying it sees growth in the regional market.

My colleague at the DJC, Benjamin Minnick, reported the news here. In the story, he reports that

The Grunwaldzki Center in Wroclaw, Poland, uses 30 percent less energy than Polish code requires. Image courtesy Skanska
Lisa Picard has been hired as executive vice president to lead the local development division. “The fundamentals in Seattle are great,” she said.

The move is especially notable because Skanska will self-finance all its projects and says it won’t necessarily develop projects owners are currently doing, such as apartments in today’s times. Instead, the story says Skanska will look at the long term and what is a good buy now.

That’s interesting obviously, because of the freedom Skanska has to build what it wants. But it also speaks to the potential for sustainable buildings.

Most developer’s green goals are constrained by the cost of super green technologies. I’ve been told that green projects up to around LEED gold can be done at cost if you begin early. But if you want to go for the super green stuff – net zero energy, Living Building certification, fancy new technologies – there’s still a hefty premium, even if there’s a huge benefit.

According to the story, Skanska has already said all its projects built locally will meet LEED gold or higher standards, and will be located in urban core areas with strong employment growth. To read the company’s sustainability policy, click here (beware- it’s pretty overwhelming).

By self-financing its own projects, Skanska, already a leading green general contractor, has the opportunity to do some really incredible things. Additionally, if they plan to hold onto projects for a long time, rather than flip them, they have more of an incentive to invest in green technologies that only pay off over the long term.

I’m curious to see what kind of projects they pursue, what kind of sustainable goals they target, and what kind of green technologies they might choose to pursue that others wouldn’t be able to. Of  course, they could simply go the LEED gold route. Or they could build something really innovative.

If projects were self-financed and held onto for a longer amount of time, do you think we’d end up with a larger quantity of super green buildings? Or do you think teams would stick to the status quo?

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Party, party, party party! (Party) for urban livability on Thursday

We’ve got some exciting green events this week.

The biggest, and most flamboyant by far, is a fundraiser for Great City called the “Fete du Flaneur.” The fete is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, which advocates for urban livability and sustainability. The nonprofit has

The event promises to be a fun time

The event promises to be a fun time

also spawned a large portion of Seattle’s current mayoral administration, many of which will be in attendance. Mayor Mike McGinn, Great City’s founder, will be at the event, as will Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and City Council Members Mike O’Brien and Tim Burgess.

The evening features never-ending drinks, munchies from local chefs (by Cafe Stellina and Sitka and Spruce), a silent auction, the crowing of the Great City-Cascade Land Conservancy Mustache Challenge and performance artists (a clown, an acrobat and Lily Verlaine burlesque).

Tickets are pretty well priced (compared to a general night on the town) at $45. So, if you’re in the mood to shmooze and watch some fun performances Thursday, it’s the place to be. For more information, go here. To buy tickets, go here. The event is at Melrose Market on Capitol Hill, a new space  being developed by Liz Dunn and Scott Shapiro.

On a more somber but no less interesting note, Helle Soholt of Denmark’s Gehl Architects will give a lecture on Tuesday on how Seattle can become the most walkable city in America. The lecture is at the Seattle Art Museum at 6 p.m.

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National News: Copenhagen and the regulation of greenhouse gases

It’s a big day in the environment for the U.S.

First, the long-awaited climate talks have begun in Copenhagen. Second, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally determined that greenhouse gas pollution is dangerous, setting the stage for the U.S. to regulate emissions through the Clean Air Act.

Though I know about these issues, I’m not a national news reporter, so let me point you to some great resources regarding these two very important events:

Copenhagen. The New York Times has a team of reporters covering the two-week talks. The NYT staff will also be keeping the public up to date via very informative video posts here.

If you’re looking for a local perspective, nonprofit Climate Solutions’ eco guru K.C. Golden is attending the talks. He’ll be posting periodically on the CS Journal.

There’s also this resource for journalists that I’m sharing with you (shhh, don’t tell).

On a bit of a side note, there is an excellent look at how green Denmark really is, reported by Henry Chu of the Los Angeles Times and carried in today’s Seattle Times. The article points out that Danes throw out more waste than Americans and eat more meat than we do (whodathunkit?) However, what struck me most was although Danish people throw out more waste than we do, only 5 percent of that waste ends up in a landfill, compared with 54 percent in the U.S. (Washington’s recycling rate was 55 percent in 2008. Seattle recycles 50 percent of its waste).

On the EPA side, there’s the NYT’s Green Inc. blog with the story, the general AP story is here, and a (somewhat) local version of it is here at Natural

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Svend Auken has died – local event will celebrate his life

Patricia Chase of International Sustainable Solutions sent out an e-mail recently regarding the death of Svend

Svend Auken
Svend Auken

Auken, the Danish gentleman who helped turn Denmark into the energy efficient country it is today. He passed away in August. When Auken was last in town in June of 2008, I had the honor of personally interviewing him after his talk at city hall. My story, available here,  focuses on how Auken said green was a very tangible and possible thing as long as government set rules and got involved. He suggested rules regulating energy use per square foot of a building. I also blogged about our discussion here.

An event will celebrate his life Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 N.W. 67th St., Seattle.

Here’s what Chase wrote in the e-mail:

“I was sadly aware the last time I had the pleasure of enjoying Svend Auken’s company, that it might be the last. In spite of weekly blood transfusions, radiation, slurred speech (terrible for someone who loved to talk as much as he did), Svend insisted I come over to sit on his veranda with him, drink his favorite Barolo, and talk about everything from how grateful he was to have reconnected with the Pacific Northwest to the perilous situation with Israel and Gaza. Fully aware that all treatments had failed to halt his prostate cancer, Svend was still as optimistic and full of life as ever. He was excited about his recent speech to Congress about Denmark’s energy independence, and believed that his party, the Social Democrats, were poised to regain government. In spite of his condition, he was actively campaigning for people in his party, and was looking forward to upcoming travels. Svend was grateful that he had been able to reconnect with the Pacific Northwest in the past few years. As a student for one year at WSU, in the heady era of the Kennedy administration, Svend took his first steps in his political career as a campus organizer for civil rights in America. The people of the Pacific Northwest were very important to him, and every time he visited, he gave us 250%.”

I’ll leave you with what he said the last time he was here in Seattle: “If we want to change, we can change. We have the instruments and if we can’t do it, who can do it.”

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