GAIA: From slaughterhouse to museum

10 November 2023

On Tuesday, GAIA, along with national partners in the Circular Boost project, UiT (The Arctic University of Norway), Sortland Municipality, and Reno-Vest, visited the Nortura building. Much of the building is to be repurposed for the fully circular GAIA container museum.

Funded with 13 million NOK from an EU research project on circular construction processes, the new GAIA container museum aims to set a record in concrete recycling. The Circular Boost project plans to dismantle the old slaughterhouse (Nortura building) and the old fire station in Sortland to reuse their materials for constructing the new landmark building in Sortland harbor.

Gruppe mennesker rundt et møtebord.

Before visiting the site, a quick meeting was held at the new fire station to discuss the technical and logistical aspects of this extensive project. From left: Marius Frantzen, Jack Lange, Atle Nielsen, Øystein Lihaug Hjelle, Elise Gustavsen and Kristine Røiri.

The Arctic University of Norway is one of the national partners, with its role being to support the implementation of innovative practices in building materials, focusing on the utilization of recycled concrete aggregates originating from construction and demolition waste.

Researcher Iveta Novakova from UiT’s Department of Energy and Material Technology, who specializes in concrete reuse, mentioned that three types of concrete were found in the Nortura building.

— The normal concrete in the building is very reusable, the second type could be more problematic, but still usable. The third type is lightweight aggregate concrete. Most of the materials can be recycled, said Novakova during the site inspection.

Portrett av forsker Iveta Novakova

— This is not a demolition project, it is a dismantling project

Portrett av administrerende direktør i Reno-Vest, Elise Gustavsen

Are there other things from the buildings that can be reused?

There is much more than just concrete to be extracted from the project. The building contains several other materials that can be reused.

— We have been on a treasure hunt today to look at things, and it will be up to the architects to put together a new building with used materials from this building. This is not a demolition project, it is a dismantling project, said Reno-Vest CEO Elise Gustavsen

— There is an incredible amount of usable material here, a lot of steel constructions and glass that I am quite sure the architects will consider reusable.

But it’s not just physical materials to be extracted from the building. There is also a considerable amount of new knowledge hidden within the worn concrete walls.

— Reno-Vest is part of this project to learn. Our strategy is to help the construction industry become even better at dismantling, and to be able to put used building materials in new cycles, become new building blocks in new buildings, concluded Gustavsen.

Dame som står i et mørkt rom og lyser på grønne garderobeskap med telefonlommelykt.
The old slaughterhouse offers more than just concrete; here, we also have, among other things, lockers that might be seen in the future museum.

Contributing to the green shift in the construction industry

The EU project Circular Boost is a four-year endeavor, EU-funded under the Horizon Europe program. In collaboration with 28 international partners, research will be conducted on large-scale concrete reuse. Circular Boost concentrates on the testing and upscaling of circular solutions in the construction and civil engineering sectors through pilot projects across five European regions. The pilots will showcase new and integrated solutions for demolition, construction waste treatment, and large-scale management. The container museum in Vesterålen is one of five pilots that will demonstrate large-scale reuse in practice.

Horizon Europe is the world’s largest research and innovation program with a budget of 95.5 billion euros, a significant portion of which is allocated to climate objectives to achieve green transition and sustainable value creation. The grant includes funding of 12.9 million NOK for research and work on the use of recycled concrete, as well as underwater work for the container museum.

— The ambition is a fully circular building that contributes to the green shift in the construction industry, and that the Container Museum will have a recycling rate of 95% in the building process, said Ane Høyem during the inspection, leader of GaiaVesterålen.

The national partners in the Circular Boost project are Reno-Vest, The Arctic University of Norway, Lundhagem architects and Museum Nord.

GaiaVesterålen plans to build a container museum, a landmark made of repurposed containers from the fishing industry in Sortland harbor. The building will be constructed from recycled materials and be climate-neutral in both construction and operation. Inside the container museum, there will be a sophisticated high-tech model of Vesterålen, covering past, present, and future through 16 selected themes.

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