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Reusing Office Space for a Better Tomorrow

24 August 2021


Climate change is threatening the existence of thousands of species, including our own. How can interior architects help?

Written by Henning Prytz Poulsen / Pressenytt

«Burn up the old, ring in the new», sings Colin Moulding of the celebrated English band XTC, but he probably didn’t consider the effect our throw-away society is having on climate change, let alone the role of interior architects, when he wrote «Sacrificial Bonfire» more than 30 years ago.

«We are standing at a crossroads. There can be no doubt about that. We need to divert from the path of short-term thinking and take a more long-term approach», Trond Ramsøskar tells us. Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that links humanities emissions to rising temperatures, as well as floods, wildfires and searing drought across the planet.

As partner and interior architect at Ramsøskar Interiørarkitekter AS, and former president of  the Norwegian Association of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers (NIL for short), he is passionate about finding a way for the whole industry to work together to achieve sustainability and reduce waste. He is adamant that interior architecture should be part of the answer.


Sustainability lies at the heart of the renovated offices of The Norwegian Sea Rescue Society (Redningsselskapet), thanks to Ramsøskar Interiørarkitekter. 


«Interior architects have been accused of contributing to the throw-away culture that has been prevalent in the office space for decades. We have to take an honest look at our own role», says Ramsøskar.


Before a new tenant moves into a property, every trace of the former tenant is usually removed and disposed of. The interior is refurbished and new furniture is installed, that some years later might be ripped out and thrown away, and new things brought in to keep everything fresh and up to date. Meanwhile the waste piles up.


New fronts and a replacement countertop ensure that “New Kitchen” feel. 


So what can the architects do? For one they can use their considerable influence to bring better solutions and products to the table. Poorly planned spaces and low quality furniture and interior products need replacing sooner rather than later. Why not invest in better and more durable solutions to begin with?


«We have to motivate our clients to choose high quality products with a long life span. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially when it comes to public tenders, where the necessity to keep costs down discourages suppliers from offering quality solutions», says Ramsøskar.


A touch of paint was all it took to revive the meeting room. No office or meeting room chairs were damaged during the renovation.


The point interior architects need to get across to clients, he argues, is that cheap solutions create the need for further investments and spending a few years down the line. What is bad for the planet is, in this case, bad for the bottom line too.


«Our goal must be to create an enclosed circle where products and materials that are in circulation, are reused instead of ending up as waste. We have several producers who have come a long way in this regard. What we need is to spread knowledge and awareness on how products and environments can be reused, dismantled and recycled, as well as how we can create and renew office spaces without burning the old», Ramsøskar says.


A freestanding wardrobe solution in lacquered steel will be easy to dismantle and rebuild the day Redningsselskapet decide to move to a new location. 

Copyright for all the pictures: © Niklas Hart


Want to hear more about this topic? Be there, at Trond Ramsøskar's lecture on 30th September at ARCHITECT@WORK Oslo. Here you can find more information. 

Reusing Office Space for a Better Tomorrow
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