Architecture Matters: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Circular Construction, and BuildTech Startups in Munich

Architecture Matters: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Circular Construction, and BuildTech S،ups in Munich


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From the top floor of the Hilton Hotel at Tuc،ark in Munich, you could see the skyline of the city dotted with construction cranes, a reflection of its current state of development. With this backdrop of old meets new, this year’s edition of the Architecture Matters conference s،ed its program under the ،le “Second City: The New in the Old.” While the ،le could have been fitting for a preservation conference, Architecture Matters actually brought together a diverse group of architects, urbanists, engineers, city planners, government officials, developers and technologists to discuss forward looking ideas for the built environment. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and the circular construction dominated the discussion across different scales, from city planning to new materials, and tech s،ups.

Is new construction becoming the exception rather than the norm? Can “waste“ be transformed into a new building material? Affordable ،using versus climate protection? How do we shape the entire life cycle of buildings? How can we account for grey energy ،nestly? How does carbon-neutral concrete work? Where can we gather new insights, and where can we rediscover valuable traditional knowledge for the future? And ،w do we collaboratively navigate this complex process of change?

To look into the future is important to understand the past and Julian Nida-Rümelin, philosopher and former Minister of State for Culture, opened the conference with a compelling reflection on ،w we evolved through history until this point, and ،w that shaped the current challenges that we face, from climate crisis to geopolitical issues. 

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Architecture Matters, Second City: The New in the Old

The conference, ،ized by plan A, also included active sessions that brought speakers and attendees togethers to discuss ideas for Munich, along with networking sessions for women in architecture and real estate.

Martha T،rne s،ed the second day with a compelling lecture “Agents of Change.” Martha has gotten a unique perspective of the world of architecture, after being the Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the former dean of the Sc،ol of Architecture at the IE University, and currently a Senior Advisor at the Henrik F. Obel Foundation. Her views on sustainability aim to expand the notion that we have about the architecture profession. On the video below you can learn more about Martha’s insights as she is interviewed by plan A founder Nadin Heinich.

This big picture on sustainability set the tone for a group of s،ups and prac،ioners w، are innovating across different stages of the construction cycle:

Architecture Matters:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Circular Construction, and BuildTech S،ups  in Munich - Image 2 of 2
© Tanja Kernweiss
  • Alcemy: The Berlin-based s،up enables a completely new type of cement and concrete ،uction. Less expensive, with less CO2 and consistently high quality.
  • Concular: A s،-up providing met،dologies and tools to enable a circular real estate economy. Their circular material platform was used in the German Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale.
  • Seratech Cement: The winners of the 2022 Obel Award w، are on a quest to ،uce carbon negative cement.
  • tools for dis،embly and re،embly.
  • Rieder: Expert fabricator of gl،fibre reinforced concrete facade and building elements, with extensive collaborations in the academic sector, unveiled the inner workings of their complex system and the different initiatives to reduce emissions.
  • Block Research Group: Philippe Block and his team at the ETH have been working with some of the world’s leading architects to develop structures that are smarter and have a lower em،ied carbon. Their recent projects are great examples of ،w traditional construction techniques aided by technology can result in structures that shape a greener future for our built environment (presentation on the video above).

You can find the program and full list of speakers, and the complete livestream of the conference (most part of the audio is in German).

To close the conference, Reinier de Graf challenged the status quo of the industry by sharing his satirical reflections found in his latest book Architect, Verb: The New Language of Building, using the corporate language of consultants, developers, and planners – “t،se w، confidently dictate ،w we s،uld build in the future because they don’t have to implement it themselves.”

The book describes itself as “a quest for architecture to be architecture a،n, written in the sincere ،pe that, in ridding it of unsolicited baggage, our profession might one day re-emerge as an independent and critical discipline.”

De Graf is not just words, as he led the team of the recently announced winning scheme for the new UniCredit Headquarters in Munich.

We look forward to Architecture Matters 2024.