MOR team explaining the project
MOR team presentation. (Photo: Maria Rubal)

Transforming old office buildings into affordable and sustainable housing and workspace for starters. This is the MOR project that will represent TU Delft at the Solar Decathl

On average, 15% of office buildings in the Netherlands are vacant, with a peak of 25% in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. TU Delft’s MOR team, which stands for Modular Office Renovation is working on reusing these empty offices to solve the housing shortage faced by the big cities in the Netherlands. 

The MOR team presented its concept at an event at the Green Village on Tuesday 5 June and will enter its project in the 2019 Solar Decathlon Europe (SDE), an annual competition in which up to 20 universities from all over the world design, build and operate a full-scale solar-powered house. SDE’s theme for 2019 is renovation.

The MOR team proposal for the SDE is to create housing by cost-effectively reusing and refurbishing empty office buildings. “The construction industry is responsible for over a third of the energy consumption and CO2 production in the world,” explained the team leader, Ivan Avdic, at the presentation. “Reusing available building stock is key in tackling the shortage of affordable housing.” 

‘Our project will give back more to the urban environment than it will take’

MOR’s members are working on ways to make buildings resource efficient by minimising the energy, water, air, biomass and material consumption, and supplying and managing these resources in closed cycles. “Our project will give back more to the urban environment than it will take,” continues Avdic.

To show the feasibility of this concept, the team is working on a real building – a 22 floor tower block in Rotterdam, built in the ‘70s in a former heavy industry area. The structure of the building is fixed, but most of the floor space is open.

Four types of modules can be combined to fit each floor.
(Photo: Maria Rubal)

The MOR team has designed four residential modules of different sizes and shapes for the building. The kitchen and bathroom, bedroom, façade and communal area modules can be combined to fit each floor, making the design easily replicable in other office buildings around the world.

The design also includes urban farming on rooftops; integrated gardens in the building; communal areas; and a ground floor open to other residents in the district. The refurbished building would generate electricity through solar panels; collect and clean rain and grey water; use plants on the floors and façade to ventilate the air; and recycle the biomass in the greenhouse and the vertical gardens. 

Some studies predict that office space will be needed again in the future, so MOR’s modules are demountable, so that buildings can be returned to their original function. In these cases, the materials used could be disassembled and recycled, or brought back to the market, giving them a second life. 

The team will enter its project in the 2019 SDE. (Photo: Maria Rubal)

The 2019 SDE will be held in Szentendre, an architecturally rich town along the Danube. There, the team will build a 1:1 model of a 50m2 module, an interior garden and a communal area. It will compete against 16 other teams in 10 categories. After a month, the prototype will be disassembled and brought back to the Netherlands, where it will be rebuilt at the Green Village.

  • MOR is a multidisciplinary and international team of 37 members, most of them master students. They are divided into specialised committees for every facet of the challenge, from architectural and structural design to sustainability, electronics, finance and partnerships.
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Plants on the floors and façade will ventilate the air. (Photo: MOR team)
Digital image
Each floor will have communal areas. (Photo: MOR team)