Sustainability-in-Tech : Buildings Made Of Re-Usable Parts

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV and startup Madaster have taken sustainable design to new levels by creating a whole office building that’s made of 90 per cent re-usable parts. 

Matrix One – Made of Re-Usable Components 

The ‘Matrix One’ six-storey, 13,000-square-metre laboratory and office building acts as the main campus hub of the Matrix Innovation Center in Amsterdam and has been designed to be demountable (it can be easily dismantled). The is because the innovative building is made up of 120,000 reusable components. 

The building has been constructed using simple connections like screws and bolts so that, when parts of the building are updated, components of the building can be detached and reused. For example, even the building’s floors have been made using prefabricated concrete slabs with no fixed connections, allowing them to be reused at the end of the building’s lifespan.   

Other Sustainable Elements 

Other sustainable design elements of the building include the large “social stairs” which people are encouraged to use rather than the lifts, solar energy generation from 1,000 square metres of solar panels on the roof, smart lighting and smart heating to reduce energy consumption, and ample bicycle parking. 


Also, the fact that the offices in the building can easily be modified to become labs and vice versa, and labs can be easily upgraded with new systems to accommodate changing standards gives the building a flexibility that others don’t have. 

MVRDV partner Frans de Witte says: “The building is state-of-the-art now, but it also acknowledges that the state-of-the-art is constantly changing. So, we made both the interior spaces and the technical installations that serve them as flexible as possible” and that “In the decades to come when the building is no longer cutting-edge, it will become a source to harvest materials from for other buildings.” For example, the building has been designed so that when it reaches the end of its useful life or gets renovated, its components can be made available for purchase on a second-hand marketplace, a kind of eBay for buildings. 

Madaster’s Material Passport System 

The Madaster platform, an online library of information on materials and products, provides a comprehensive material passport system, thereby giving insight into the materials and products used and the CO2 storage for over 120,000 individual components. As a result, over 90 per cent of the building’s materials can be reused again later. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business?  

This is an example of a new way of looking at buildings and designing sustainability and carbon reduction right from the bottom up. Not only does the idea of removable modular parts put together with just simple connections allow for easy replacement and allowing parts to be re-used elsewhere, but it also gives a flexibility (e.g. laboratories being swapped with offices) and recognises that state-of-the-art is constantly changing. This allows the building to be more easily kept up to date. The fact that the Matrix ONE building can also meet ambitious Amsterdam targets for energy use (and is certified BREEAM-Excellent) is another big bonus. It could be, as MVRDV partner Frans de Witte says, this is an example of how buildings work in the future which would mean some substantial changes and new opportunities in the construction industry as well as architecture.

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