The design philosophy moves away from a traditional static structure, with a solid floor every three levels and soft, flexible three-storey volumes in between.
©Forbes Massie

Building land in city centres is notoriously scarce and in many cases also expensive, which is why the solution is often sought in tall slender towers. Since the buildings should also be flexible in their use and as sustainable as possible in their construction, alternative solutions are needed to avoid demolition and new construction. Not least the pandemic and the continuing trend towards home offices have shown how quickly needs and requirements for the existing building fabric can change.

The British-Norwegian architecture firm Haptic and the engineering firm Ramboll have jointly developed a concept for a modular tower made of wood for a site near the Grønland metro station in Oslo, which is intended to adapt to the needs of cities and its inhabitants. To achieve this, the individual floors of the tower, called “Regenerative High-Rise“, are to consist of modules that can be pulled out and exchanged for others. In this way, an office complex can be transformed into a hotel or converted into flats. The concept also aims to provide an answer to today’s need to retrofit buildings in dense urban environments, which faces significant difficulties with high-rise buildings that are often designed for a specific function.

Whether fresh and waste water systems, electricity and heat supply, everything should be integrated into the basic skeleton of the building and function according to a plug-and-play principle. In short, the platforms created around the core resemble shelves of a rack. Modules can be inserted into the upper part of the shelving as needed, extending over three levels. In the middle section, it should be possible to integrate one- and two-storey modules that can be flexibly mixed and connected with each other – from residential units for singles to flats for large families and residential communities that extend over two or three floors. Modules for open-air areas, small gardens or city farms are also conceivable. The “regenerative high-rise” should not only be versatile, but also as sustainable as possible in its construction. Therefore, durable and fire-resistant wood composites are to be used as far as possible for the construction of both the supporting structure and the modules. Only for the central pillars and the foundations would steel and concrete be necessary.

Whether the Regenerative Tower in Oslo can actually be realised is still open. In any case, the team wants to develop the project further and summarise the possibilities, potential and feasibility of such a modular tower construction in a study.

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