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Five ways of working with sustainable architecture

The DAB2020 project investigates five current approaches to sustainable architecture: 1. UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2. Climate Adaptation, 3. Circularity, 4. Health and Well-being, 5. Participation. These approaches are in no way the only strategies, but are understood forward-thinking endeavours which serve not only as drivers for the analysis of current Danish architectural practice, but they are also used to trigger the discussion about future directions for sustainable architecture.

– An approach that implements local strategies which are characterised by a broader global perspective of the project’s impact. The strategies exist in a broader framework of other
interconnected 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals that centre around four overarching issues:
human rights, labour laws, the environment, anticorruption and bribery.

– The climate is changing and so must our architecture. Climate adaptation approaches to
architecture are based on a contextual design approach – meaning buildings are developed from and adapt to their specific climate, context, society and culture. Which is even more important with the emerging climate emergency and uncertain future conditions of our built environments.

– An approach that relates to the regenerative economic model. It reduces the consumption of finite resources through their effective use and closing material flows. It considers the entire lifespan of the building, its function, usage, construction, maintenance, disassembly, and future reuse.

– It is estimated that we spend 90% of our time indoors, therefore health and well-being approaches to architecture strive to create space that positively affect individual, community as
well as global or environmental well-being. This includes physical and physiological health but
also promoting equality for all – including the environment and non-human species.

– An approach that involves all actors affected by the development in the decision-making. It maps
the community assets and creates a framework for its interactions. It delivers mutual learning experience and directly involves future users to co-design of the artefacts, processes and
environments that shape their lives.

approaches basic

100 Sustainable Projects in Denmark
Building on existing knowledge, we analysed and mapped more than 100 projects with different approaches to sustainable architecture in Denmark which could be considered influential in different ways. The projects cover a broad spectrum and differ in scale, function, typology, construction methods, material solutions etc. The DAB2020 map shows their location as well as a variety of diverse parameters highlighting certain specificities of each approach.


Five Influential Cases

The analysis, as well as a quantitative and qualitative assessment of 100 mapped projects delimited 5 case studies – one for each approach to sustainable architecture. This analysis is based on existing literature, reports, project documentation and information from the architects combined with our own expertise. Choosing one building is always a challenge, however, the selected projects showcase influential and inspiring projects that address diverse goals for UN SDGs, climate adaptation, circularity, health and well-being and participation approach.

venligbolig plus

Friendly Housing Plus is an example of the project which rethinks micro-living in urban areas while focusing on social integration. This affordable housing for Danish students and refugees centres around shared spaces and staircase core which creates visual connections and enables frequent users’ encounters. The new co-living typology, based on the buddy-scheme, does not only address UN SDGs which promote social equality, inclusivity and affordability but it also meets the need to build responsibly as the project uses prefabrication, modularity and timber to reduce waste and resource consumption.


Friendly Housing Plus
Architect(s): ONV
Architects, We Do
Year: 2019
Type: building (new)
Category: residential
Scale: 2000 m2
Structure: steel and

© ONV Architects


The renewal of Enghaveparken transforms a historic neo-classic park into an urban space which combines climate adaptation strategies with a variety of flexible recreational activities which function in the everyday while also in extreme cloudburst scenarios. A levee is created around the perimeter of the park allowing the park to hold 22.600 m3 of water answering the need to deal with unpredictable future water challenges. The levee wall functions both as seating during the dry time but also incorporates water channels along the top offering a recreational and educational element to the Climate Park. In addition, rainwater is collected from neighbouring areas and reused within the project in different ways furthering the innovative approach to climate adaptation design. 


©Tredje Natur


Project: Enghavepark
Location: Copenhagen
Architect(s):Tredje Natur
Year: 2019
Type: urban park
Category: public space
Scale: 35000m2
Structure: concrete with various natural surfaces

Villa wood,  is built entirely with CNC cut massive wood elements apart from the concrete basement. The building is also designed for disassembly reducing the number of prefabricated, modular components which are legibly arranged and connected with reversible joints. Moreover, the external surface of CLT panels is treated with sustainable thermal impregnation technique (Japanese Shou Sugi Ban method) which ensures future material recycling. Villa Wood is designed as a flexible space with partially open plan and section. It uses natural ventilation, passive solar heating and heat exchanger.

circular_Villa Wood.jpg

© Nord Architects


Project: Villa Wood
Location: Brønshøj
Architect(s): Nord
Year: 2016-19
Type: building (new)
Category: residential
Scale: 180 m2
Structure: concrete
CLT structure
for upper floors

villa wood
frederiksbjerg skole

Frederiksbjerg School is a kinesthetic primary school built on a former school site which relates to health and well-being through daylight, materials, acoustics, social and physical well-being. Movement is one of the key drivers for the project, supporting the notion that children learn better when combined with physical activity, movement and sense-perception.  The atrium is used to cluster different buildings together with activities which are used to focus on learning through movement and play. The school shares the terraces, outdoor areas and playgrounds with the public where you can relax and play. Additionally, daylight is a key influencing factor in creating the beneficial indoor climate that are key to the spatial experience.


Frederiksbjerg skole
Location: Aarhus
Architect(s): Henning Larsen Architects
Year: 2016
Type: building (new) ,
Category: public space
Scale: 15000 m2
Structure: brick, concrete, steel

© Henning Larsen Architects


Turning Point aims to revitalise a dysfunctional public space as well as integrating the local, diverse community. The project was developed in a 1:1 participatory design process in close collaboration with the residents, local businesses and Aarhus municipality. The programme of the building,  includes a common house, a kitchen, a contact point and toilets was conceptualised, co-designed and built with the building’s future users. The architect, constantly present on-site, acted as the initiator, moderator, facilitator, designer, organiser of the process, as well as the instructor and co-builder pushing the boundaries of what a participatory project can be.


Rundthøj Turning
Location: Aarhus
Architect(s): Kondens
Democratic Architecture
Year: 2016-2018
Type: building (new) ,
Category: public space
Scale: 120 m2
Structure: shipping
containers, timber

© Kondens - Democratic Architecture

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