The Atelier sees itself as an open, interdisciplinary working group and multiplier for the development of new ideas, networking and application of concepts developed by the Institute for Grey Energy.

Transformation process

The aim is to initiate a transformation process: hitherto fallow »grey energy« can be activated through resource-saving »re-use«. The Atelier pays special attention to large buildings and brownfields with industrial precedents that were previously perceived as inconvenient and were no longer used for various – mostly economic or legal – reasons. Beyond the urban centres, numerous of these more or less forgotten buildings can be found, whereby the often lack of development pressure opens up a multitude of new design and utilisation concepts. The basis of this transformation process is a new understanding of the existing stock and the strategy of radical conservation. The recognition and visualisation of »grey energy« bound up here is to be achieved through technical, ecological, economic, artistic and cultural approaches to existing buildings.

Based in the funnel room (Trichterraum) of the Oßmannstedt living lab, the studio is to develop into an interdisciplinary collective that accompanies the findings of the Institute for Grey Energy and applies them as a multiplier in other places. Through events such as exhibitions and workshops, the discourse will be stimulated beyond the site. The funnel room will become a public centre for collaborative spatial development.


  1. each object is to be considered as an individual case. The precise recording of existing structures and the understanding of what is found serve as the basis of any intervention.
  2. Existing substance must always be preserved. Demolition is the ultima ratio. If this appears unavoidable, the reuse of the material is to be preferred to its mere reprocessing. Instead of new technological systems, existing systems are to be repaired or upgraded. 
  3. The transformation of a fallow building is based on the existing building. For a sustainable use of grey energy and to strengthen the resilience of the building to future uses, the necessary interventions should be designed adaptively in the long term. The smallest possible interventions are preferable to energy-intensive transformations. Transformations should always be reversible in the sense of a circular building economy. 
  4. Since uses have shorter life cycles than buildings, they must always be understood as interim uses. Smaller, low-threshold uses can serve as nuclei for further uses in large complexes. A generous and variable »underuse« is preferable to optimised and closed »overuse«.

Further reading

serundschmidt. Graue Energie – was ist das?, 2010.

Kasser, Ueli. Ökologische Bewertung mit Hilfe der grauen Energie. Schriftenreihe Umwelt. Bern: Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft (BUWAL), 1999. „Neues Merkblatt zur Grauen Energie in Gebäuden“. Zugegriffen 30. Mai 2021.

Seggewies, Johanna­Katharina, und Annette Hillebrandt. „Recyclingpotenziale von Baustoffen“. In Atlas Recycling, herausgegeben von Annette Hillebrandt, 1. Auflage. Edition Detail. München: Detail Business Information GmbH, 2018.

Spreng, Daniel. Graue Energie. Überarb. und Aktualisierte dt. Ausg. Zürich: vdf, Hochschulverl. an der ETH Zürich u.a., 1995.