Designing Danish Environments

Designing Danish Environments

TransForm abs Report for In Business, the environmental entrepreneurs' magazine, March/April 1995. Contact Root Zone through www.rootzone.dk

In the heart of Copenhagen, in a charming courtyard just a few steps off the world's longest pedestrian shopping street, stands Transform abs, a Danish company designing creative, overall solutions to worldwide environmental challenges. TransForm has three floors of activities, which are both separate and overlapping.

Starting at the top is the architectural office of Niels Peter Flint, an internationally recognized eco-designer. His consulting work ranges from conceptualizing a green golf course for Japan to creating exuberant environments in Denmark to starting O2, a seven year old international ecological designers organization with dozens of members actively sharing information and inspiration.

On the second floor is Dansk Rodzone Teknik (Danish Root Zone Technology), a ten year old bio-remediation business owned by agronomist Jorgen Logstrup. Working with a local partner in each country, Logstrup has developed successful waste water treatment systems for sites in Denmark, India, Namibia and Columbia. While most serve residential and industrial users in rural areas, some are in use at car washes at urban sites.

The ground floor is the TransFormer showroom, the result of the collaborative efforts of this partnership. It has two parts, one a shop, and the other a kitchen and bathroom. It features a domestic version of root zone technology that cleans and recycles the gray water produced in the sinks and showers along with the rainwater captured on the roof. The water is piped underground, where it is naturally cooled by several degrees. Using photovoltaic and wind power, the cold water is pumped through a large insulated cupboard that functions very well as a refrigerator. Most of the construction materials in the homey kitchen come from natural and recycled resources.

The shop is called Flint's, and it is the first "planet conscious" shop in Copenhagen. It carries a wide variety of globally-sourced goods including bicycles, organically grown cotton, jute and hemp clothing and yardage, Deja Shoes, natural paints and art supplies, recycled accessories and organic gourmet foods. There are also items not often seen in other green shops, such as sealskin jackets and slippers, organic wine and sheepskin condoms. The sealskins come from Greenland, where hunting them is part of the cultural heritage that's difficult for many environmentalists to accept. The store has just been open since the Autumn of 1994, and as it's such a new concept, the staff has to spend quite a bit of time with each customer. There already is a second Flint's in Copenhagen, and both shops retail as well as wholesale green products.

Together, Flint and Logstrup have been designing building systems that merge their expertise. One local urban renewal project currently underway involves retrofitting a block of old apartment buildings with new kitchens and bathrooms in beautiful, efficient ecological service towers. For more information, contact Rootzone at www.rootzone.dk. For information on O2, you can contact its Global Network at www.o2.org

© Wendy E. Brawer 1995

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