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Debate: Demolishing the old system instead of demolishing schools

Debate: Demolishing the old system instead of demolishing schools

Swedish schools are underserved, and municipalities have exorbitant maintenance debts. There is a lot that can be achieved from using existing tools for sustainable building, such as recycling and conversion. They demolished old concepts instead of demolishing schools! She is now calling in representatives of the country’s largest architectural firm, White Architects.

More and more municipalities are experiencing challenges with neglected school buildings. In a survey conducted by the newspaper Skolvärlden, 68 percent of responding municipalities stated that they would need new buildings within the next five years, and last year the Swedish municipalities and regions, SKR, reported that before 2022, the corresponding new primary schools were 390. and 40 new secondary schools in Sweden. The need is due to the increasing groups of children and youth, but also the fact that many of today’s schools are worn out, insufficiently maintained, and not adapted to modern learning. Sweden’s second largest city is no exception. According to the analyzes presented last week, the maintenance debt for school buildings in Gothenburg is SEK 3.5 billion and the list of older buildings in their current design is increasing.

To meet this challenge, the city of Gothenburg initiated a long-term property plan. Of course, all municipalities should have a plan for how they will manage and take care of their property, but we know that it is not available in many places. In our experience, companies that are unable to handle long-term maintenance rarely have well-thought-out plans for reuse or conversion. It’s time to reevaluate municipal property – and change perspectives. The linear system must be challenged today, as buildings are in a constant state of deterioration and have an ever-increasing cost. Instead, we want to see a circular system, where buildings are evaluated not only on the basis of their architectural qualities but also on the basis of the materials and equipment that compose them. In this way, they can create value, even when they need to be demolished or rebuilt. In fact, the buildings are, or can be, a common materials bank for the municipality. Just sColor and its combinations can often be newttjas in future learning environments. In other words, a large-scale recycling inventory of schools threatened with demolition should be an important effort for all municipalities with a demolition decision at hand. In addition, each specific building need should lead to an analysis of existing buildings with their potential to be upgraded – rather than assuming that the solution is new construction.

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For municipalities that want to work with diversion and recycling, there are many good examples. In Umeå, the reconstructed Maja Pisco School has been in place since 2019. Everything from the tires to the limestone floors can be reused there when two old buildings became new ones. In one building, from the fifties, large parts of the existing building could be preserved and in the eighties the frame could be kept. The reconstruction of Maja Beskow School means a third, greater climate impact, compared to if a new school was built, and the financial savings amounted to about SEK 300 million. Maintaining frames and foundations provides a huge benefit to the climate, as these components are difficult to reuse in any other form. Another inspiring example is the Selma Lagerslöf Center in Gothenburg, Sweden’s largest recycling project for a public representative. It is 6,200 square meters and is decorated with 92 percent recycled furniture and materials from companies in the city. Choosing recycled furniture reduces your climate footprint by 20-40 percent, compared to buying and disposing of new furniture. In addition to the climate benefits, the high degree of recycled furnishings on the project has resulted in a saving of SEK 9 million.

The concept paper presented by SKR earlier this year, focusing on municipal school buildings, states that responsible use of resources is about reducing the need for newly built schools as it involves significant investment and increased costs of operation and maintenance. Instead, municipalities are urged to review how existing buildings are used. But both the unfavorable calculations and limitations in the detailed plans could, according to SKR, put an effect in the wheel here. Another clear example of the need to change old systems and methods.

These issues will become increasingly important. The National Council on Housing, Building and Planning states that a significant portion of the municipality’s property portfolio, of which schools and nurseries are a large part, was built in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Many of these buildings now have a large and growing need for maintenance. The outdated schools, along with large groups of children, are placing severe pressures on municipal budgets. So municipalities should increase recycling of materials between demolition, conversion and new construction projects and include visions for building transformation in working with the property portfolio. And when you have no choice but to build new, you should choose durable, hygienic materials that can be taken apart and reused for many generations. In addition to the obvious climatic benefits, it is economically feasible to think circularly. The knowledge, tools, and ambitions are already there. Now it’s just about changing perspectives – coming up with the old, letting go of the old!

Jacob ShlqvistIncoming office manager White Gutenberg

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Anna Nordlander, studio leader for education and culture, Wyatt

Karen Hidden, environmental strategist and recycling coordinator, White

for more information:
Maria Gertel, Head of Public Relations, White Arkitekter
+46 70588 65 00
[email protected]

White Arkitekter is one of the leading architectural firms in Scandinavia. We work with architecture, design and sustainable urban development in an international context for current and future generations. Our mission is, with the power of architecture, to drive the transition to sustainable living. Our vision is that by 2030, all of our projects will be robust and climate-neutral. We are a staff owned architectural group of approximately 700 employees with presence in Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany, Canada and East Africa.