Smart and climate positive
Situated on the Danish island of Bornholm, the Green Solution House hotel features smart rooms and real-time energy and resource monitoring. The hotel designed by 3XN/GXN has raised the bar with its climate-positive timber wing.
The island’s landscape was shaped by ancient glacial flows. Besides sandy beaches and dunes, visitors will also discover dense forests and rugged gorges. A holiday on Bornholm, Denmark’s most westerly island, is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. But there’s more. The port city of Rønne is also home to the Green Solution House hotel, which nowadays has become a tourist attraction in its own right. When guests leave, they take a new awareness with them along with their holiday snaps.
Our client wished to make cradle-to-cradle construction part of the hotel experience.
Kåre Poulsgaard, Head of Innovation at 3XN/GXN
“The project had an interesting genesis as regards sustainability. Our client wanted to make cradle-to-cradle construction part of the hotel experience,” explains Kåre Poulsgaard, who heads up the green innovation unit at Danish architectural firm 3XN/GXN. “Part of the design brief was to test as many sustainable ideas as possible.” In the end, 75 green solutions were incorporated throughout the building.
Solar power, biogas and sheep
To name just a few: The photovoltaic system generates electricity from sunlight. Food scraps and bio-waste from the restaurant are shredded in the biogrinder and converted into biogas. The hotel’s wastewater is treated in a biological filter system to produce service and drinking water. Even sheep help to minimize the hotel’s carbon footprint by taking on lawn mowing duties.
Sustainability is also manifested in the hotel’s low embodied carbon, i.e. its resource-efficient construction. “The Green Solution House is an upcycling project where we used as much of the existing structure as possible in order to avoid waste,” says Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder of 3XN, explaining the concept behind the closed-loop material cycle.
Denmark’s first mass timber hotel
A new timber wing with 24 rooms, a spa, and a conference room is designed to even exceed the hotel’s existing high standards. “Thanks to the CO₂ sequestered in the wood, we’re able to reduce overall emissions significantly,” explains Poulsgaard. The building is designed to be carbon negative over the course of its entire lifetime. “This is something no commercial property in Denmark has achieved thus far,” the project description states.
Hotel guests can monitor their own energy consumption, allowing them to observe how they themselves become a design factor.
Kim Herforth Nielsen, Chief Architect and Founder of 3XN /GXN
Climate-positive buildings store more carbon than they consume throughout their lifetime. To achieve this, the new wing is made almost entirely of wood. The CLT (cross-laminated timber) structure is insulated with wood fibres and clad with wooden panels.
Dismantles like a Lego structure
Whereas the conventional method of producing CLT elements results in waste, the designers came up with an innovative upcycling concept here. All sections cut out of the wall elements for windows and doors, for example, are used to make bespoke interior furniture. Carpenters could construct four benches out of three door cut-outs, for instance. The result is unique and inexpensive fitted furniture.
It goes without saying that the new hotel wing is designed to be completely recyclable too. Reversible timber joints are used throughout the entire construction to ensure that the building can be dismantled and recycled at the end of its lifespan, much like a Lego structure.
The smart hotel room
Part of the concept is to make the hotel’s innovative sustainability features tangible for guests. “The Green Solution House is a smart building. Hotel guests can monitor how much energy they consume, which encourages them to behave responsibly. This means they can observe how they themselves become a design factor,” explains Nielsen, who adopts the “Form follows Behaviour” approach with his architecture firm.
Smart sensors monitor the entire operation of the building to ensure optimum performance. Upon arrival, guests receive a tablet with which they can monitor the temperature and air quality in their room. The app also displays their real-time energy, resource and water consumption. “We want guests to return home with a new awareness of how a building breathes, consumes raw materials and generates waste,” the 3XN/GXN concept states.
The Green Solution House hotel has received multiple awards, including the European Sustainability Award. In 2021, British newspaper The Guardian ranked it among the 10 most environmentally friendly hotels in Europe.
Text: Gertraud Gerst