The first Finnish park, that is built almost entirely from recycled raw materials, was opened in Helsinki, Malminkartano on the 30th of June. The exterior of the old Apollo school, which was sentenced to demolition, has been used in the layout of the area. Big building blocks that resemble Lego-bricks, make the space interesting.
EcoUp and the City of Helsinki have agreed on a pilot project, in which the suitability of Cubeco blocks that are made from recycled raw materials replacing cement, are tested for urban construction. Cubeco blocks are modular blocks, that can be used for the construction of different green and outdoor areas.
Recycled mineral wool is used in the production of Cubeco-blocks. With EcoUp’s patented equipment, various demolition materials, such as hard-to-dispose mineral wool, can be ground into recycled raw materials. With the created recipe, the recycled raw material is used as part of the production of geopolymer concrete, where it replaces cement as part of the binder. The pilot park consists of a hundred Cubeco blocks, where 300 litres of recycled and cleaned demolition wool have been used per one block. The carbon footprint of Cubeco blocks is even 80 % lower in comparison with concrete structures.
Cubeco-blocks also help to reduce the final disposal pressure in recycling centres, because mineral wool is known as one of the largest solid landfill wastes, which burdens 20 million kilograms in landfills every year in Finland. In Europe, the corresponding figure is 260 million kilograms. (Source) During the production of Cubeco-blocks, the local demolition wool waste can be recycled and thus helps to reduce the use of virgin raw materials.
The pilot project of EcoUp and the City of Helsinki is a continuation of the concrete industry innovation challenge that started in summer of 2022, where reuse possibilities were sought for the unloaded mineral wool from Laakso Hospital. EcoUp took shared second place in the challenge. A pilot project that will continue until autumn is overall significant because nothing similar has been done in Finland before.
The site of the pilot park, the old pergola, was covered in graffiti and rubbish, but it deserved a new beginning. As a structure to be renovated, it fitted perfectly with the circular economy themed park. The colour of the park scheme was chosen to be around green and blue tones, that with sliding colouring of the posts look for inspiration from the green transition. Various ensembles make the park cozy, e.g., a picnic space, a chess game point, and a higher hangout space called “Tunturi”. In addition, the basketball court next to the pergola got substitutes’ benches built from Cubeco-blocks.
The city of Helsinki as a trendsetter in circular economy construction
EcoUp isn’t the only one that has been working to increase circular economy in Finland. Also, the City of Helsinki and various cooperation partners such as the Circular Economy Cluster, have taken great steps to concretize circular economy in urban construction. The city has a strong desire to promote the green transition and it hasn’t settled for the situation only at the level of speech.
– Helsinki wants to be involved in promoting business in line with the circular economy. It has been great to follow this project from the innovation challenge all the way to piloting. EcoUp has been doing great work with the circular economy for a long time and now the pilot being implemented is a good indication of that, says Mira Jarkko from Circular Economy Cluster program of the City of Helsinki.
We are grateful to the City of Helsinki for the given trust. Cubeco-blocks made from recycled materials will be piloted this summer in the open and free-to-use pilot park in Malminkartano, in the yard of the old Apollo school. The functionality of the material will be monitored in practice and blocks suitability for various outdoor structures will be tested during the pilot.