Sustainability issues are high on the agenda at the new Linnaeus university in Kalmar, Sweden. One aspect of the environmentally adapted project completed in 2020 was the ambition to reuse and recycle existing furniture in a circular way. “It takes a little more work and planning, but our collaboration with Kinnarps has worked excellently,” says Maria Ekstrand, construction engineer at Linnaeus university’s property and service department.
With the vision of being a city-integrated university and a new, attractive meeting place in the city, there are now more than 8,000 full-time students and 830 employees. The location in the heart of Kalmar was deliberate to make life easier for students and teachers who were previously scattered throughout the city, and to contribute to meetings between students, researchers, the business community and public sector operations. The university area also offers meeting places such as cafes, shops and restaurants that are accessible and welcoming to both residents of Kalmar and visitors.
The lecture halls are furnished with the durable Stack chair in FSC®-labelled wood with an upholstered seat for extra comfort. The design of the Origo table has been customised according to the wishes of Linnaeus university.
The learning spaces were carefully planned to suit different individuals resulting in interior design solutions that invite and support various activities – from cooperation to focused individual work. The comprehensive way of working with digital meetings and distance learning to reduce the climate impact of travel also required supportive solutions and adapted technology. When planning, it was a given to make sustainable material choices, to select energy-smart solutions and to reuse furniture. Similarly, it was important to sustainably manage existing furniture that was not suitable for reuse.
"One of our requirements in the procurement process was that the interior design supplier would take back and reuse the furniture that we could not use in the new premises. As an environmentally certified university, it was only natural for us to look for a partner that shares our sustainability vision."
In the planning phase, the existing furniture was inventoried and sorted into items that could be reused in the new premises, items that could be reused by another operator, and items that were unusable and needed to be recycled sustainably. Maria Ekstrand explains that there are both challenges and opportunities involved when striving to reuse as much as possible of an existing interior design.
"It may add a few more steps and require more planning. As a procurer, it’s always good to work in a timely manner and get suppliers involved early on in the process. This time, it was more critical than ever before."
It is always important to have a clear vision of the function and design of learning spaces, but when you bring reuse into the picture you need to plan even more carefully to make a uniform impression. Kinnarps’ broad expertise in both strategies for learning spaces and circular flows made for an efficient process, enabling harmonisation between old and new furniture.
For several of the lecture halls, Kinnarps Studio custom-made height-adjustable lecterns.
What happened to the old furniture from Linnaeus university that Kinnarps took care of? Johan Dahlström is responsible for circular economy at Kinnarps and notes that procurements requiring reuse are becoming more common as well as more extensive. "We welcome the development towards sustainably reusing furniture. Not only is it innovative, but also necessary for achieving greater sustainability in the furniture industry. We’re constantly gaining more experience and working intensively to develop effective methods of being circular and we have come a long way in these areas," he says.
The furniture will live on after it has been serviced or renovated and adapted to the wishes of its new users. Some components were removed from the products that needed to be recycled to be reused as spare parts for other recycled furniture. The remaining components were dismantled and sorted at source. Materials such as metal, plastic and textiles were sent for material recycling, while wood-based parts were converted into briquettes. These are used in Kinnarps’ environmentally adapted heating plant, which heats both the production unit in Kinnarp and the surrounding households.
There are several different types of ergonomic desks in the staff areas. The storage areas also function as room dividers.
"Height-adjustable tables are examples of products that we see great potential in reusing. The legs can often be reused as they are, and with a customised table top in the customer's desired colour and shape, it becomes a very attractive and sustainable product."
The Centrum medio easy chairs are examples of pieces that were reused from the former premises. The easy chairs now function as an inviting meeting place for students and staff in the public areas.
The corridor has been furnished to invite and support informal meetings. Lean In offers a comfortable and pressure-relieving surface to lean against, whilst also absorbing noise.
Space storage with RFID locks for staff.
Both high and low seating have been selected for dynamic learning spaces in the lecture halls.