60 years old | Buildings are being demolished on too frivolous grounds, says architect Harri Hakaste – “Our entire construction culture is focused on new construction”

The chief architect of the Ministry of the Environment is interested in developing the circular economy of construction.

For new ones decisions to demolish buildings are made on too frivolous a basis, the chief architect Harri Hakaste says. The possibility of retaining building components or additional construction may not even be explored.

Hakaste, who works at the Ministry of the Environment, is responsible for sustainable construction, circular economy, housing design, renovation and architectural policy. He hopes that the reuse of materials will be better taken into account in the climate impact assessment of the construction and real estate sectors.

“Our entire construction culture is focused on new construction. However, today most of the construction is renovation. ”

According to Hakaste, it is no longer enough to calculate the climate impact of new construction. The effects of dismantling should also be assessed. On the other hand, when dismantling is mandatory, the aim should be to utilize the dismantling materials to replace new materials and emissions from their manufacture.

Challenges dismantling in a circular economy is enough, but solutions are also available. For example, a decision to dissolve should perhaps be better justified as a condition of the decommissioning permit. Calculating the climate impact of demolition and subsequent new construction alone could be eye-opening. The role of the state and municipalities in the transition to thinking in accordance with the circular economy in demolition activities is central. The usable materials of fully or partially demolished buildings should be recovered and offered for re-use.

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“Climate control in construction is gradually expanding from the energy efficiency of buildings to materials,” he estimates.

The Ministry of the Environment is preparing a digital Material Bank to collect information on demolition materials for reuse and recycling. Could re-use material even be free with state support?

“Yes, even economic instruments could be used if there are solid environmental criteria behind them,” says Hakaste.

He points out that every municipality has an organization for the treatment of household waste.

“2.5 million tonnes of municipal waste is generated each year, and its treatment is carefully organized. 1.6 million tonnes of construction waste is generated, but little attention is paid to its recovery, although the emission benefits could be significant, ”he wonders.

The most ingrained difficulty, however, has to do with attitudes: “My own generation is probably already lost to the linear economy.”

Hakaste would like the change in mindset to be taken into account in planning times. An architect plays a key role in building a low-carbon circular economy, and giving designers time to evaluate the potential for using recycled material also wins economically.

Some archival agencies, such as JKMM, have taken action on their own initiative. For example, the construction of the University of Helsinki’s Science Corner was solved on the basis of preserving the frame of the old building. In the Kirkkonummi library, the office part of the old library was preserved and repaired in the new building.

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In Denmark, the architectural firm Lendager has pioneered and set up its own design company to collect usable building materials for new construction. Hakaste believes that the information generated on the basis of the digital material bank about the demolition material available could develop new business in Finland as well.

“The big challenge is related to the suitability of the demolition materials, but I think that will be solved over time,” he says.

“All education and research is also oriented towards new construction. As the focus of construction shifted to renovation in the 2010s, this must also be reflected in the content of education and research. ”

Exist There are intangible assets in the existing building stock that are currently being investigated by the Ministry. The historical stratification of the settlements is a value in itself, and even the modest old buildings are associated with the emotional ties of the residents of the area.

“A toolkit is needed to value the buildings under threat of demolition,” says Hakaste.

“All of these things are important and interconnected: low carbon, repair. emphasis on the climate crisis, increasing the role of the user. One single option should not be dictated. There must be diversity in housing construction, both in the end result and in implementation. I welcome group building. ”

A resident barometer is underway to map residents’ wishes. Tubular dwellings that receive natural light from only one direction and have no kitchens have increased in terms of efficient construction.

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“I am not in favor of more regulation, but there should be enough natural light in every home,” he adds.

Hakaste studied in Tampere and began his career working in various architectural firms. During the recession in the 1990s, he did his own design work, worked in associations, and delved into sustainable construction as well as resident-oriented design. He considers a varied work history important to an official.

Hakaste’s teacher parents live in Pori. Mom will soon turn 90 and start her day doing crossword puzzles and sudoku puzzles. Hakaste has planned a joint 150th anniversary celebration with his mother, as long as the corona pandemic subsides.

“Aging is unavoidable, but its effects can be prevented. I consider it really important to stay mentally alert, ”she says, saying she sees a good example in her mother.

Harri Hakaste

  • Born in 1962 on Viitasaari.

  • Attended school in Pori, became a student in 1981.

  • Graduated as an architect from Tampere University of Technology in 1990.

  • Design work in the architectural offices of Juhani Katainen, Heikkinen-Komonen, Aitoaho-Viljanen and Järvinen-Airas 1986–1993.

  • Participates in the activities of Eko-Safan, the cooperative Ansion, the housing rights association Helas and the Ekorinki project

  • As an official in the Ministry of the Environment since 2003.

  • Married to interior designer Sirpa Laaninen, two teenage boys.

  • Turns 60 on Tuesday, January 18th.

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