An office building 80% made from recycled materials is the example of upcycling in construction achieved by Oslo-based firm Mad arkitekter.

The European Commission estimates that around a third of the world’s waste is generated by the construction sector. In response, the firm Mad Arkitekter (Oslo, 1997) has succeeded in constructing an office building with 80 per cent recycled materials. Kristian Augusts Gate 13 is a clear example of upcycling, a great contribution to the debate on the reuse of materials.

The result was a 70% reduction in carbon emissions compared to new construction. For the construction, a huge volume of demolition waste has been used: wood offcuts, old tiles and carpets, pieces of steel, mismatched windows, concrete rubble and much more, obtained from 25 demolitions in Norway. The firm has seen all this rubbish as a large quantity of raw building materials waiting to take shape.

The potential for reuse of construction waste has been an obsession that led the firm to redesign its own offices in 2021 with largely recycled materials. When the company was approached by property developer Entra to refurbish and extend a nearby 1958 office building, the studio saw an opportunity to take reuse to the next level.

The Kristian Augusts Gate 13 project features almost 80% reused components in the renovated office building and in an eight-storey, 9,200 square metre extension.

Along the way, the team has shown that reuse has potential far beyond pilot projects and detached housing.