Straagaarden is building a sustainable future

The building experiment Straagaarden looks forward to the 2020 building regulations and a more sustainable future with a holistic housing project using nature’s own resources.

A stone’s throw from the beach town of Gilleleje in North Zealand you find the building experiment of Straagaarden; a sustainable housing project constructing its way out of a long period in the construction sector with too fragmented thinking, laying the foundation for new communities and clarifying the need for change.

Behind the project is former pharmaceutical CEO Erik Pfeiffer, who with the project wishes to put focus on the need to rethink the way we build, to help the Danish building industry get ready to reap the benefits of the green agenda, in terms of sustainability as well as health and indoor climate and other factors threatened by climate change.

Entrepreneur Erik Pfeiffer says:

“With Straagaarden, we are trying to put a more holistic and sustainable way of thought on the agenda. We gather knowledge all the while we build future solutions. This of course represents some challenges on the way and you need to consult your common sense on a regular basis, all the while you push boundaries”.

Sustainability requires renewable materials

It is a deliberate choice to only use nature’s own raw materials for the construction of Straagaarden. To be able to move on, we have to detach us from the industrial dogmas built in the beginning of the century and stop paying with our environment and health.

Straagaarden is not only about the sustainable building – it is just as much about daring to try something new and go all the way even if it seems old-fashioned and precocious. And not to let us be stopped by the first challenge that meets us along the way. We live in a time when the way forward is often just plain old common sense in new clothing.

Erik Pfeiffer says:

“If no one dares to challenge reality, there is too great a risk that we get stuck in bad structures, which we cannot afford, neither environmentally or financially. It is common sense to seek solutions with nature’s own building materials. It provides a better indoor climate; it is saves money and our land. We must not confuse what we usually do with what is natural. We have to think in alternative courses and have faith in the future”.

The same applies for the prime contractor of the bearing wooden structures, Metsä Wood. Metsä Wood thinks much along the same lines as Straagaarden, both in terms of sustainability and outdated regulations.

Metsä Wood’s Danish Country Manager, Lau Larsen, says:

“The world is moving towards more sustainability, but innovations are moving slower than they have to. Therefore, it is gratifying when someone challenges the dogmas of the past, takes the spoon into his own hands and shows the way. In Metsä Wood we know that the world needs alternative ways of building and we therefore spent a lot of effort preparing our clients for the future”.

Eric Pfeiffer faced a big challenge in the Straagaarden project – apart from outdated building regulations. The bearing steel structures that are used in Denmark in almost every type of building, had to be replaced by wood with the same or better bearing strength, and these type of products are not standard in the Danish building trade.

Erik Pfeiffer says:

“I had to turn to the Danish branch of the Finnish timber product manufacturer Metsä Wood to find the right timber frames. In Finland, the building codes are completely different than in Denmark because they have a long tradition and are used to constructing with wood. Metsä Wood utilizes the flexibility of wood as building material, to customise solutions for the entrepreneur. This is the reason why the choice fell naturally on Metsä Woods Kerto®, a dimensionally stabile product line that enables building the same types of structures as with steel”.

Stuck in dogmas of the past

Lau Larsen and Metsä Wood are constantly working to make the construction properties of wood more visible and spread the word about wood as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials such as steel and concrete. At the moment Metsä Wood is redesigning some of the world’s most iconic buildings in wood, to draw attention to the sustainable movement. Metsä Wood and sustainability focused architect Michael Green chose to redesign the perhaps most iconic skyscraper of modern time, the Empire State Building in New York.

Lau Larsen says:

“The construction industry have almost triumphed itself to death, and to get back on the right track, we must now – like Erik Pfeiffer – dare to turn everything a little upside down. We have become so adept at building in a certain way that we have forgotten to reap the very benefits of the diversity of building material properties, which enables us to move forward”.