Modern lightweight construction for smart cities of the 21th Century

What do the Brunfaut Tower of Brussels, the Parkgärten cooperative of Berlin and the Saint-Nazaire housing project in Western France have in common? These are three examples of radical and affordable lightweight transformations using vertical and horizontal extensions, that are positively influencing the urban built environment in Europe with high architectural and resource efficient standard allowing the creation of new housing without demolishing.

This September 27, the European Parliament Gypsum Forum will assemble architects, engineers, policy makers, developers, small contractors, business leaders and other experts to define, assess and tackle the critical questions and challenges faced by an increasing urbanisation close to saturation in terms of new affordable housing. Hosted by the European Parliament, the conference is organised by the European Parliament Gypsum Forum with the European Builders Confederation - EBC.

Three leading experts will discuss about the importance of these solutions: the French Architect Jean-Philippe Vassal, the Belgian architect Daniel Dethier and the German engineer Karsten Ulrich Tichelmann. Those affordable solutions involve the commitment and the expertise of the developers and small contractors for the correct implementation of those innovative solutions. SMEs in the construction sector are key to support that development.

Key note speakers are: Mrs Julie Girling, MEP, President of the European Parliament Gypsum Forum, Mr. Daniel Calleja, Director General of DG Environment Mr. Bernard Lekien, President of Eurogypsum Mr. Patrick Liébus, President of EBC.

Where and how should the urgently required living space be created in housing markets? A recent study came up with an impressive answer: “In Germany more than 1.5 million housing units can be constructed cost-effectively on the roofs of existing buildings in this tense housing market. The 1.5 million additional housing apartment avoid at the same time land use from 150 to 210 million m²”. What about the rest of Europe?

In Europe about 73% of the current population is living in urban environments and this is expected to rise to 80% by 2050. Most of the existing building stock has been built in the 60s and 70s and often fails to meet today’s inhabitants’ expectations of comfort and quality, at an affordable running cost. Furthermore building land for new projects is very scarce in congested metropolitan areas. Among the architectural solutions to be discussed at this year’s event is the transformation of existing buildings with lightweight solutions.
In Germany there are numerous examples of lightweight renovations. A mix of old and new architecture characterizes the image of the Alsterdorf district of Hamburg. Here the vertical extension of the buildings almost doubled the living space and at the same time implemented a sustainable energy-saving concept. In France, the Saint Nazaire building transformation participates to the reflection of requalifying a district with beautiful views and green spaces with comfortable housing.

The Tour Brunfaut in the district of Molenbeek in Brussels, Belgium, was built in 1965. The rehabilitation of the social housing tower, that will start in the next few months, maintains the existing structure, and increases the original volume by adding several new levels. These operations will provide a greater diversity of housing, better urban integration and contemporary standards of comfort and safety.
The European Parliament Gypsum Forum is aimed at sharing these innovative transformations and architectural practices with EU representatives.

Moderated by : Sylvain Bosquet

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