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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

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

    Interview: With the future design of reversible buildings, cities can become their own material reservoir

    June 25, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E., and Cordula Rau (2021), Cordula Rau im Gespräch mit Dirk E. Hebel: Mit der künftigen Konzipierung rückbaubarer Gebäude können Städte zu ihrem eigenen Material-Reservoir werden, in: architektur. aktuell: the art of building, June 2021, p. 14-15.

     
     

    Urban Mining and Circular Construction

    June 1, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E. and Felix Heisel (ed.) (2021), Urban Mining und kreislaufgerechtes Bauen. Die Stadt als Rohstofflager, Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, 2021.

     
     

    Bricolage: Renewable building materials

    June 1, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E., and Jenny Keller (2021), Bricolage 3: Nachwachsende Rohstoffe, in: werk, bauen + wohnen, Materialkreislauf, 5-2021, p. 30-31.

     
     

    Green architecture or green fairy tales?

    May 12, 2021

    Welzbacher, Christian (2021), Grüne Architektur oder grüne Märchen?, in: Deutsches Architektenblatt, NACHHALTIG, 05/2021, p. 16-21.

     
     

    Building as materials cycle

    May 6, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E., and Angela Kratz (2021), Bauen als Stoffkreislauf, in: IBA Magazin No. 4, Heidelberg für alle, April 2021, p. 24-25.

     
     

    Recycling through leasing

    May 6, 2021

    Angélil, Marc, Sarah Graham, and Cary Siress (2021), Recycling through leasing, in: Constructing Sustainability, Lafarge Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, 2021, p. 36-37.

     
     

    Kindergarten Kambodscha

    March 30, 2021

    Fachgebiet Nachhaltiges Bauen KIT, Prof. Dirk E. Hebel (Hrsg.) (2021), Kindergarten Kambodscha. Professur Dirk E. Hebel. Master Studio KIT Karlsruhe Sommer 2019, Karlsruhe 2021.

     
     

    Concern of the building stock – Ten strategies for architecture

    March 16, 2021

    Welter, T., (2020), Sorge um den Bestand: Zehn Strategien für die Architektur, in: der architekt, 6/2020, p. 76.

     
     

    local material, local design, local built.

    March 8, 2021

    Böhm, Sandra (2020), Local material, local design, local built., in: archlab.docs #3, KIT Research Preprint, Karlsruhe 2020.

     
     

    build up & dismantling/ cultivation/ development

    March 5, 2021

    Böhm, Sandra (2018/19), Bau auf! & Abbau/Anbau/Aufbau, in: archlab.docs #2, KIT Research Preprint, Karlsruhe 2018/19.

     
     

    We will soon be building houses out of mycelium?

    February 22, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E., BILD der FRAU (2021), Nachgefragt bei WELTbewegern: Bauen wir bald Häuser aus Pilzen?, in: BILD der FRAU.

     
     

    OFFSPRING: The KIT material library

    February 17, 2021

    Hebel, Dirk E., and Böhm, Sandra (2020), NACHWUCHS: Die KIT-Materialbibliothek, in: ASF Journal 2020, p. 46.

     
     

    From breeding, cultivation, seeding and harvesting of biological building materials

    January 18, 2021

    Presentation of some projects of the symposium grow.build.repeat.

    Schimmelpfennig, Nadine (2021), Vom Züchten, Kultivieren, Säen und Ernten biologischer Baumaterialien, in: Deutsche Bauzeitschrift, Zukunftsfähig Bauen, January 2021, p. 40-43.

     
     

    100% Ressource: Bauten als Rohstofflager

    December 10, 2020

    Dirk E. Hebel (2020), 100% Ressource: Bauten als Rohstofflager, in: Sorge um den Bestand, Zehn Strategien für die Architektur, von Olaf Bahner, Matthias Böttger und Laura Holzberg für den Bund Deutscher Architekten BDA, Dezember 2020, p. 165-177.

     
     

    Materials science during studies

    November 10, 2020

    Dirk E. Hebel, Sandra Böhm (2020), Materialkunde im Studium, in: Der Entwurf – Magazin der DBZ für junge Architekt*innen und Ingenieur*innen, November 2020, p. 14-17.

     
     

    Recycling

    October 16, 2020

    Dirk E. Hebel (Referent), Markus Freitag (Podiumsgast), Barbara Bleisch (Moderation) (2020), Recycling, in: Auf Zeit – Architektur Forum Ostschweiz, Edition 2019, p. 153-174.

     
     

    The built environment becomes an urban mine

    October 16, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E. (2020). Die gebaute Umwelt wird zur Urbanen Mine, in: Die Quadratur der Kreislaufwirtschaft – Weshalb eine Ökonomie der Kreisläufe auf gesellschaftliche Kooperation bauen muss, W.I.R.E., David Hesse, Simone Achermann. p. 16-27. Zurich, Switzerland

     
     

    From the circulating, sowing and harvesting of future building materials

    August 26, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E. (2020). Vom Zirkulieren, Säen und Ernten zukünftiger Baumaterialien, in: Bauen im Wandel. Zukunft Bau Kongress 2019, BBSR. p. 74-79. Bonn, Germany

     
     

    Tremendous possibilities

    August 26, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E. (2020). Ungeheure Möglichkeiten, in: der architekt. material der stadt. 4/2020 (Bund Deutscher Architekten BDA), Berlin, Germany

     
     

    Constructed from mycelium

    July 21, 2020

    Klaaßen, Lars (2020). Aus Pilz gebaut, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung. 18.07.2020, München, Germany

     
     

    The opportunities of the urban mine

    July 7, 2020

    Hebel, Dirk E. (2020). Die Chancen der urbanen Mine. Wie ein kreislaufgerechtes Bauen die Ressourcenfrage der Zukunft decken kann, in: PLANERIN. Mitgliederfachzeitschrift für Stadt-, Regional- und Landesplanung, p. 21-24. 3_20, Berlin, Germany

     
     

    Stark wie Stahl

    July 2, 2020

    Beck, Gabriela (2020). Stark wie Stahl, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung s.41, Nr.90, Bauen und Wohnen, 18./19.04.2020. München , Germany

     
     

    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