David Goehring: Let’s build in wood

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What is sustainable building?

”Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius once said in the 20’s; ‘We want to create the purely organic building, boldly emanating its inner laws, free of untruths or ornamentation.’

It depends which country you live in and what era. It is long perceived that green building is driven by economy, but there are multiple drivers. Here in Denmark, one would be lead to believe that energy is the leading driver, but perhaps it is more about out social system and sense of fairness.

A more grounded example is sustainable shelter- our homes. Security, view, a place to sleep and recharge the bodies, a place to prepare and consume food, to bath in the glory of warm sunlight, something affordable and adaptable as we go through changes in life, with human-sensitive public spaces.

So start with sustainable housing- and you touch the whole world.”

What is not sustainable building?

”Permanent and inflexible structures. That’s a paradigm of centuries gone by. Time has speeded up, where finance and property development are predicated on a protean future. It is a falsehood to presume we can predict how we will work, live or play in the future. We can not afford to get it wrong, as our material resources are not unlimited.”

What is wrong with the way we are building today?

”We are in a rush, driven by short term economics with risks not evenly shared. Investors such as pension funds, target projects with a 6% return on investment- construction developers require 3x that amount. This is quite the tight rope to walk and when economic forces shift, whole communities can be rendered obsolete, as we saw during the financial crisis of 2009. Buildings encapsulate so many precious resources and have such a long term impact, that we need to consider new ownership/ finance models.

Today, buildings’ based in the circular economy are fast evolving, with so-called lease back components, where the manufacturer maintains ownership. Together with second life transformative urban redevelopment, raw material resources can be conserved.”

What are the new trends within sustainable building?

”Hybrid methodologies and models are the new trends with coupling the uncommon with the beneficial to enhance building performance and human enjoyment.

Architects collaborate with biologists to make a better living green wall, roof top aquaponics, urban farming. Ecologists are guiding development to enhance bio-diversity vs. mono cultures, leading to counter-intuitive findings with extraordinary and innovative results. Inter-disciplinary design teams in deep collaboration with citizen groups solve complex social issues of the day within spatial development. Facility managers are informing architects.”

 What will you do to kickstart the sustainable transition?

”The transition is well underway. With the pioneering philosophy’s such as “waste equals wood” of Cradle to Cradle, designers and industrialists have been re-thinking how things are made. We are already experiencing the beginning of the share economy in the building industry.

We should realize that we are not only going back to nature, but that we are- in fact- nature”

What prototypes/actions/initiatives are you planning?

”With our first prototype, we will catalyse actions required to manifest a demonstration project for a mid-rise tower in wood.

Wood when sustainably sourced, is the only structural building material that truly sequesters carbon, while concrete, steel and aluminium emit carbon.

In our second prototype, we will promote wood innovation in cooperation with Danish municipalities. With the new Go2WOOD Knowledge Partnership, we will challenge the out-dated carbon intensive methods to promote the sustainable use of wood.”

How will the near future look like with regards to sustainable building?

”Organic architecture. Buildings will take on a more organic appearance with green walls, roof gardens and urban farming and will be made from bio-based materials. A new anthroposophy genre for the times.

Design for dis-assembly. Buildings will be expressed with joinery that proudly exhibits its ability to be taken apart, embedded with coding for reverse logistical tracking. At Chora Connection we are welcoming new innovative initiatives that take sustainability to a new level.”















Thanks to Crowne Plaza and Copenhagen Towers for the use of location.

The portrait of David is taken in front of a wall in the entrance hall of Copenhagen Towers made of used wood structures from old window frames. All production by Lendager Architects (www.lendager.com).