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Urban Mining & Recycling (UMAR) Unit in Dübendorf

The Urban Mining & Recycling (UMAR) Experimental Unit is the newest unit of the NEST research building on the campus of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) in Dübendorf, Switzerland. The building design created by Werner Sobek with Dirk E. Hebel and Felix Heisel demonstrates how a responsible approach to dealing with our natural resources can go hand in hand with appealing architectural form. The project is underpinned by the proposition that all the resources required to construct a building must be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable. This places life-cycle thinking at the forefront of the design: Instead of merely using and subsequently disposing of resources, they are borrowed from their technical and biological cycles for a certain amount of time before being put back into circulation once again. Such an approach makes reusing and repurposing materials just as important as recycling and upcycling them (both at a systemic and a molecular/biological level, e.g. via melting or composting). This conceptual emphasis means that UMAR functions simultaneously as a materials laboratory and a temporary material storage.

The following approaches lie at the heart of the design:

  • Temporary removal and borrowing instead of permanent acquisition and disposal
  • Maximal modularisation and prefabrication
  • The potential for all materials and products to be extracted cleanly, separated out and sorted

The building, which is created on the basis of a modular construction concept, is fully prefabricated and tested in the factory. The supporting structure and large parts of the façade consist of untreated wood, a material that can be reused or composted after the building is dismantled. The façade also includes aluminium and copper, two types of metal that can be separated out cleanly, melted down and recycled. The interior of the unit contains an extremely diverse range of serially manufactured building products whose various constituent materials can be separated out and sorted before being introduced back into their respective materials cycles without leaving behind any residue or waste. Among the technologies used here are cultivated mycelium boards, innovative recycled bricks, repurposed insulation materials, leased floor coverings and a multifunctional solar thermal installation.

Visitors can learn about all of the materials and products used in the project at the entrance to the unit and in the dedicated materials library.

The UMAR unit is not just a material storage, but also a public repository of information that is intended to serve as a model example and a source of inspiration for other building projects. UMAR wants to make a contribution to the paradigm shift that is required in the construction industry. The module functions both as a laboratory and a test run for sustainable building projects and the processes associated with them. In collaboration with partners from the worlds of planning, administration and production, the unit’s goal is to examine resource consumption and the key issues in the construction industry and use its insights to develop a range of innovative tools and approaches.

Opening: February 2018

Project Team:

Concept, Design and Project Planning:
Werner Sobek with Dirk E. Hebel and Felix Heisel, Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, Germany (Project Management, Werner Sobek Office: Bernd Köhler, Frank Heinlein)
Structural Planning and General Contractor:
kaufmann zimmerei und tischlerei gmbh, Reuthe, Austria (Matthias Kaufmann)
HLSKE (Heating, Ventilation, Sanitation, Air-Conditioning & Electrical Systems) and MSR (Measuring & Control Technology):

Amstein-Walthert AG, Zürich, Switzerland (Project Management: Simon Büttgenbach)
Sprinklers:
NBG Ingenieure AG, Bern, Switzerland (Bernhard Zmoos)
JOMOS Feuerschutz AG, Balsthal, Switzerland (Rudolf Jenni)
Fire Safety:
Balzer Ingenieure AG, Chur, Switzerland (Dumeng Wehrli, Christoph Schärer)
Building Physics:
Weber Energie und Bauphysik, Schaffhausen, Switzerland (Moritz Eggen)
Client:
Empa Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Dübendorf, Switzerland (Enrico F. Marchesi, Reto Fischer)

       
 
 
 
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
Fakultät für Architektur
Institut Entwerfen und Bautechnik

Fachgebiet Nachhaltiges Bauen
Englerstr. 11, Geb. 11.40, Raum 25
D-76131 Karlsruhe
 
Tel: +49 (0)721/608-42167
 
 
 
Recent Publications:  
 

    Changing Paradigms!

    March 19, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E., Werner Sobek (2020). Changing Paradigms: Materials for a World Not Yet Built, in: The Materials Book, 139-141. Berlin, Germany: Ruby Press

    Hebel, Dirk E., Felix Heisel (2020). Culitvated Building Materials: The Fourth Industrial Revolution?, in: The Materials Book, 145-149. Berlin, Germany: Ruby Press

    Heisel, Felix (2020). Reuse and Recycling: Materializing a Circular Construction, in: The Materials Book, 156-160. Berlin, Germany: Ruby Press

     
     

    Pavilion made of recycled materials

    March 19, 2020

    KIT Karlsruhe (2020). Pavillon aus Recycling-Materilaien, in: Neuland, Innovation am KIT 2019, 2020. 40

     
     

    House building for the heirs

    March 19, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E. (2020). Hausbau für die Erben, in: Südzeit, March 2020: no. 84, 8-9

     
     

    Showering as a school subject

    March 19, 2020

    Wüthrich, Christa (2020). Duschen als Schulfach, in: Bildung Schweiz, March 2020: no. 2, 29-32

     
     

    We’re running out of sand!

    March 19, 2020

    Prof. Dirk E. Hebel talks about the shortage of sand.

    Sakowitz, Sven (2020). Uns geht der Sand aus, in: HÖRZU Wissen, 19 th March 2020, No.2, 64-69.

     
     

    Build Sustainably and Act Future-Oriented

    February 25, 2020

    Interview with Prof. Dirk E. Hebel (2020). Build Sustainably and Act Future-Oriented. (Interview about his research as the head of the Department of Sustainable Building at KIT, specific challenges facing the construction industry concerning the reuse of materials and their sustainability and about the KIT being part of the SBM Summit taking place at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre on 18 and 19 June 2020.), in: stories, 01/2020: 22-24

     
     

    Die Stadt wird zum riesigen Rohstofflager

    February 19, 2020

    Ulrich Coenen (2020). Die Stadt wird zum riesigen Rohstofflager. (Second part of an interview with Prof. Dirk E. Hebel about the practice of urban mining, the energetic redevelopment of existing buildings and the establishment of new building materials and future energy efficient technologies.), in: Badische Neueste Nachrichten, 18th February 2020: no. 40, 17

     
     

    Diskrepanz zwischen Anspruch und Realität ist groß

    February 12, 2020

    Ulrich Coenen (2020). Diskrepanz zwischen Anspruch und Realität ist groß. (First part of an interview with Prof. Dirk E. Hebel about Sustainable Thinking, Acting and Building, technical and biological circulations, unmixed and pure construction methods and the application of urban mining.), in: Badische Neueste Nachrichten, 11th February 2020: no. 34, 17

     
     

    Kreislaufgerechtes Bauen – Kultivierte Baumaterialien: UMAR & MycoTree

    February 5, 2020

    Dirk E. Hebel, Felix Heisel (2020). Kreislaufgerechtes Bauen – Kultivierte Baumaterialien, in: H2O – Das Kundenmagazin von Keramik Laufen und Similor, January 2020: 22-23

     
     

    Second-hand is on Trend: Urban Mining and Recycling (UMAR)

    February 5, 2020

    Sabina Strambu (2020). Second-hand is on Trend, in: DETAIL selectionSpecial Publication Products 2020. Recycling – Materials, Systems, Concepts: 4-6

     
     

    Urban Mining and Recycling (UMAR) and Research Seminar ‘Bau auf!’

    January 22, 2020

    Dirk E. Hebel, Felix Heisel (2020). Urban Mining and Recycling (UMAR), and Dirk E. Hebel, Sandra Böhm (2020). Bau auf! Kreislaufgerechte Architektur in der Lehre, in: BAUART – Architektur und Kultur, inspiriert durch Heimat, Ausgabe 03/2020

     
     

    MICMAC – Micro Macro Michael Hosch, Competition for Modern Expansion and Lightweight Construction

    December 20, 2019

    Hochschulinitiative “Moderner Aus- und Leichtbau” (2019). MICMAC – Micro Macro, in: Wettbewerb 2018/2019 Moderner Aus- und Leichtbau

     
     

    Sustainable construction should not be an option!

    December 20, 2019

    Krämer, Lisa, Simon Sommer, Katna Wiese, Sophie Welter, Philipp Staab (2019). Nachhaltig bauen, sollte keine Option sein, in: DBZ Der Entwurf , November 2019

     
     

    Ein Gespräch über das Wieder- und Weiterverwenden von Baustoffen

    October 15, 2019

    Isopp, Anne and Felix Heisel (2019). Ein Gespräch über das Wieder- und Weiterverwenden von Baustoffen, in: zuschnitt 19(75): 16–19.

     
     

    Zukunft braucht Kreislauf! Mehr.WERT Pavillon, UMAR & MycoTree in db Deutsche Bauzeitung

    October 11, 2019

    Scharf, Armin (2019). Zukunft braucht Kreislauf. db deutsche bauzeitung, 152. Jahrgang, Ausgabe 09.2019, S.68-70

     
     

    Besser – Anders – Weniger!

    October 10, 2019

    Fachgebiet Nachhaltiges Bauen, Professur Dirk E. Hebel (2019). Besser – Anders – Weniger!, Strategien für suffizienten Wohnungsbau im Bestand. KIT Karlsruhe

     
     

    Was die Natur so bietet

    October 10, 2019

    Hans-Christoph Neidlein (2019). Was die Natur so bietet. (Pilzmyzelium und Bambus, Forschung nach alternativen Baustoffen am Fachgebiet Nachhaltiges Bauen). Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nr. 206, 6. September 2019, 23

     
     

    Calculation and Evaluation of Circularity Indicators for the Built Environment Using the Case Studies of UMAR and Madaster

    October 9, 2019

    Heisel, Felix and Sabine Rau-Oberhuber (2019). Calculation and Evaluation of Circularity Indicators for the Built Environment Using the Case Studies of UMAR and Madaster, in Journal of Cleaner Production 243 (SI Urban Mining): 118482. DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118482

     
     

    Materials In Progress

    September 11, 2019

    Peters, Sascha, Diana Drewes, Dirk E. Hebel, Felix Heisel (2019). Waste Vault Pavillon & MycoTree. In Materials in Progress – Innovationen für Designer und Architekten, 62 & 102. Basel, Schweiz: Birkhäuser Verlag

     
     

    Pioneering Construction Materials through Prototypological Research

    August 22, 2019

    Heisel, Felix and Dirk E. Hebel (2019). Pioneering Construction Materials through Prototypological ResearchBiomimetics4(3): 56.

     
     

    Strukturelle Bauteile, gewachsen aus Pilz

    July 1, 2019

    Schütz, Robert (2019). Struktuerelle Bauteile, gewachsen aus Pilz. Recycling MAGAZIN, 74. Jahrgang, Ausgabe 06, S.36-37

     
     

    Bild des Monats

    June 6, 2019

    Braun, Zooey (2019). Bild des MonatsBadische Neueste Nachrichten: 16, 04.06.2019

     
     

    Mit Weniger Mehr Bauen

    June 6, 2019

    Eberhard, Simon (2019). Mit Weniger Mehr BauenHaustech 32 (Mit weniger mehr bauen): 8–13.

     
     

    Verständnis für globale Dimensionen und lokale Auswirkungen

    June 4, 2019

    Hans Fuchs (2019). ‚Begrijp de mondiale dimensies én de lokale effecten‘. In stedebouw & architectuur, 04 2019, 32-35. HB Zwolle, Niederlande: Acquire Publishing bv.

     
     

    Das Raumlabor – UMAR

    April 29, 2019

    Melanie Schlegel (2019) Das Raumlabor. In Garten und Landschaft, 04 2019, 46-49. Münschen, Deutschland: Georg D.W. Callwey GmbH & Co. KG.

     
     

    MycoTree

    March 28, 2019

    Pil, Lut and Ignaas Verpoest (2018) MycoTree. In Fibre-Fixed, Composites in Design, 124-125. Gent, Belgium: Stichting Kunstboek bvba & Design Museum Gent

     
     

    MycoTree

    March 15, 2019

    Frearson, Amy (2018) MycoTree – Designed by Sustainable Construction (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and Block Research Group (ETH Zürich), Germany and Switzerland. In Beazley Designs of the Year, 56-57. London, UK: Design Museum Publishing

     
     

    UMAR – Urban Mining and Recycling Unit, Dübendorf, Schweiz

    March 6, 2019

    Claus Käpplinger (2019) UMAR – Urban Mining and Recycling Unit, Dübendorf, Schweiz. In architektur.aktuell the art of building, Energy Design 01-02 2019 , 82-93. Wien, Austria: architektur.aktuell GmbH.

     
     

    MycoTree

    March 2, 2019

    Schlesier, Karsten, Felix Heisel, Dirk E. Hebel, Juney Lee, Matthias Rippmann, Tomas Mendez Echenagucia, Andrew Liew, Noelle Paulson, Tom van Mele, Philippe Block, Nazanin Saeidi and Alireza Javadian (2019). MycoTree: Beyond Mining – Urban Growth In: pasajes arquitectura 148 (diseno e innocacion): 148–9.

     
     

    Prototypological Research: Pioneering Construction Materials

    February 28, 2019

    Heisel, Felix, and Dirk E. Hebel (2019) Prototypological Research: Pioneering Construction Materials. In Future Cities Laboratory: Indicia 02, edited by Stephen Cairns and Devisari Tunas, 200–207. Singapore, Singapore: Lars Müller Publishers.