- Prolonging the Life of Materials as Resources. Case of Liivalaia Courthouse
- Tutor: Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa, Eik Hermann
The aim of the master’s thesis is to investigate the role of the architect in the context of the circular construction model, considering the vacant Liivalai courthouse, which will probably be demolished in the coming years. In addition to rethinking the building, my work focuses on the principles of efficient material use and selective demolition.
I raise the question of the definition of sustainability in the context of repurposing existing buildings in architecture. In addition to energy efficiency, sustainability must be understood in a broader sense, including the reduction of construction material waste and the principles of recycling. Circular economy strategies for building materials exist in theory, but in practice they still need improvement. Therefore, it is important to develop a circular economy model in architecture that supports the efficient use of building materials.
I highlight the controversy over the preservation and demolition of modernist Estonian buildings that were built during the Soviet occupation. We need to see architectural heritage as having a huge potential and as a material resource rather than outdated or of poor quality. The case of the courthouse could potentially serve as a national pilot project to create a model project for extending the life of materials and dealing with Soviet heritage.
The analysis of the building and its surroundings provide input for the courthouse´s new function. The problems of Liivalaia Street are related to the lack of public spaces and opportunities for local community activities and transit traffic. Circular economic repurposing includes a thorough analysis of the building, mapping of existing materials and assessment of their reuse potential. I emphasize the efficient use of materials and the importance of selective demolition in achieving total architectural sustainability.
From the point of view of the circular economy, in addition to the material sustainability of the building, its functioning for the benefit of society is also important. As a new function of the court house, I propose the Material Competence Center, which brings together areas dealing with circular economy and sustainability. The courthouse in Liivalai becomes a meeting house, where a random passer-by, a local resident and an entrepreneur can meet. Such a symbiosis offers an alternative density of functions in one building, whose spaces pay attention to the circular economy, raise awareness of materials and encourage a deeper attention to the local and surrounding environment in order to combat the global trends of waste and overproduction.