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Architectural potential of deconstruction and reuse in declining mass housing estates

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-179
JournalNordic Journal of Architectural Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


In Western Europe, many large housing estates have experienced spirals of intertwined physical and social decline. Such estates have wound up at the bottom of the housing hierarchy, which is manifested as high turnovers and vacancies. This qualitative multi-case study contributes to the research on the sustainable management of declining neighbourhoods’ housing stocks. The study learns from four individual cases in which vacancies were tackled with an extreme architectural transformation. In the investigated cases, large-panel buildings were partially deconstructed and renovated, and the reclaimed concrete panels were reused for new construction nearby. The approach integrates demolition, renovation and new construction − the three characteristic building stock management strategies in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The cases are located in Sweden (Gothenburg, 1984), the Netherlands (Middelburg, 1986), Germany (Berlin, 2004) and Finland (Raahe, 2010). Deconstruction was the landlords’ way to manage their assets in the face of vacancies and social problems in relatively young, unamortized buildings. The projects proved technically feasible, yet they have been criticised for their economic and social implications. Nonetheless, the approach seems to have contributed to extending the life cycles of the buildings in question, and it has the potential to improve the quality of life in large housing estates.


  • adaptation measures, disadvantaged housing estates, deconstruction, mass housing, partial demolition, prefabricated concrete, renovation, reuse

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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