A Harvest of Regional Building Components: Recyclinghaus in Hanover
Client: Gundlach- Wohnungsunternehmen
Architects: cityförster architecture + urbanism
Structural engineering: Drewes + Speth, Hannover
Location: Hannover Kronsberg (DE)
Window elements and fibre-cement plates from a former youth centre, profiled glass from a decommissioned paint shop and wooden slats from the sauna benches at a sports centre: instead of ending up as building scrap, these components have found new use in the façade of an experimental single-family home near Hanover. The architects and client made it their task to employ as many used and recycled materials as possible in this project. The project team calls the procurement of these materials “a harvest of building components”. Transport routes have been kept short as well, for the dismantled elements and materials all come from the Hanover region.
The result is a solid-wood structure with a striking façade divided into bands of black fibre-cement plates and profiled glass. The sheltered area is clad with slats of light-coloured wood from old sauna benches. Visitors report that these slats still give off a light scent of eucalyptus. The ground level is home to the open kitchen. The floor, which is covered with opus siginium terrazzo tiles, contains fragments and slivers of brick from a demolished old barn, which was also the source for the exposed brickwork on the partition walls on the ground floor. A double-leaf entrance door which once led into a farmhouse has been reworked by artisans as two ceiling-high interior doors. On the upper level, a light-flooded corridor leads to the bedrooms. Decorative particle board given away by a trade-fair company forms both the panelling on the lightweight partition walls and fitted cupboards. In the bathrooms, a bottle-cap mosaic graces the walls over the sinks; the client acquired the used bottle caps from the Hanover building materials exchange.
The planning for this unconventional project took up three years and has required a great degree of flexibility. Often, it was necessary to respond spontaneously to the availability of building materials. The detail planning took place at the same time as the building process, meaning the solid-wood building was, to a certain extent, “planned around the windows”, as Nils Nolting of cityförster describes it. The fact that there are seldom standards or permits for used building components did not make the project any easier. The planners eventually relinquished the idea of creating the supporting structure from used steel parts from a warehouse, for the actual load-bearing capacity of each support would have had to be verified.
Building with reused parts is not more economical. The time required for materials research, and the careful removal and processing of the components, is expensive. However, this pilot project for building with used and recycled materials has been a success. Although the Recyclinghaus cannot go into serial production, the client would like to draw attention to the use of recycled materials and resource-saving building for future projects.
We feature this project in Detail 6.2021.