24 May 2024

An Experience for your Senses: The Living Places Materials Exhibition

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Photo: Kristian Holm

The new Living Places Materials Exhibition invites visitors to see, touch, and understand the materials that create the ultra-low carbon footprint and class 1 indoor climate of Living Places Copenhagen.  

The Living Places Materials Exhibition tells the story behind the natural materials that make up Living Places Copenhagen. Each of these building materials, like wood, paper wool, and wood fibre has been rigorously investigated and comparatively benchmarked to ensure the least environmental impact alongside an optimal indoor climate. The prototype in Copenhagen achieved an ultra-low carbon footprint (3.85kg CO2eq/m2/year) thanks in large part to the meticulous use of biogenic building materials. 


Sara Martinsen is a designer who straddles the fields of design, craft, art, and material research. She has focused on natural materials for over 8 years, and through her background as a furniture designer she gained extensive knowledge of wood while developing a material-driven approach to her work.  


Sara is also passionate about sharing her knowledge for anyone to access. So naturally, the opportunity to curate the Living Places Materials Exhibition presented an ideal context for her to channel her passion and creativity into a tactile display that activates our senses. The exhibition allows you to see and touch the many materials that make up the Living Places buildings, offering a deeper insight into how they all combine to create healthier buildings for people and the planet.

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What were your ideas behind the Materials Exhibition at Living Places and what was important in its design? 

Sara Martinsen: I think an exhibition about materials needs to appeal to everybody; in this case, also people who are not involved with construction, development, or architecture. Living Places leads the way for new building standards and to understand why and how this new solution is better we need to allow people to look inside the walls and see all the invisible layers. To touch, smell, and look. We all navigate with our senses, and we know instinctively if a material feels good to be around. Secondly, the solutions must be presented in a feasible way that allows everyone to leave the exhibition with a recipe for the next visit to the hardware store. Many people feel lost when navigating within building materials, and especially if they also want to make a responsible choice. Easy access to knowledge and transparency is key.



What did the process include? 

Sara Martinsen: The exhibition design is basic to act as a simple backdrop that lets the materials and the surrounding architecture stand out. I used a common and simple construction system called a tongue and groove lock, where the vertical exhibition boards lock inside the solid wooden beams. It is easy to mount and disassemble when needed and if an extension is required to add more information this is also easy to do. 





Do you have a favourite thing about the exhibition? 

Sara Martinsen: My favourite thing about the exhibition is seeing people engage with the materials. That's how I know I did a good job!



Can you explain the role materials play in your work? 

Sara Martinsen: Materials are the starting point of all my work. The process begins for me when understanding the materials, both their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their visual expression and typical characteristics. 



Why are they important? 

Sara Martinsen: With the long distances between consumer and production we have lost the healthy connection between humans and nature. We are rarely faced with the fact that we rely on nature to deliver what we need and therefore we rarely feel responsible for maintaining or taking good care of nature. Our material knowledge is diluted and losing basic knowledge and insight makes it hard to navigate and even more difficult to make good, responsible decisions. We become passive when we lack the basic knowledge about where stuff comes from. Therefore, it is important to know about materials and their origin. 



Is there a specific material that is integral to your work?  

Sara Martinsen: All naturally grown materials find their way to my workshop. 



Where do you find inspiration and what motivates you to create? 

Sara Martinsen: I like to find a way to present the natural materials in a minimalistic setting and I insist on finding a way to bring the natural materials into people’s lives either through architecture, interiors, or art. 



How does this project relate to the work you do?  

Sara Martinsen: Living Places and the Materials Exhibition is all about sharing knowledge for people to establish a responsible way of building and living. This is a fundamental way of working with both design and architecture if we are to change behaviours and the current processes within the building sector and discuss what defines a good home. I very much share the idea of enabling people and making your knowledge available. 



How would you describe your thoughts on Living Places?  

Sara Martinsen: Living Places carries the power of a great example—especially because it goes from good visions and intentions into a final constructed project that we can all enter and experience in person. It is a generous project because all its knowledge is offered for everyone to access, and when entering the houses people can instinctively decide if this is a future home for them.



The Living Places Materials Exhibition is free and open 24/7 to the public until September 2024 at Living Places Copenhagen.


Plan your visit
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About the VELUX Group

For more than 80 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world; making the most of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Our product programme includes roof windows and modular skylights, decorative blinds, sun screening products and roller shutters, as well as installation and smart home solutions. These products help to ensure a healthy and sustainable indoor climate, for work and learning, for play and pleasure. We work globally – with sales and manufacturing operations in more than 35 countries and around 11,000 employees worldwide. The VELUX Group is owned by VKR Holding A/S, a limited company wholly owned by non-profit, charitable foundations (THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS) and family. In 2021, VKR Holding had total revenue of EUR 3.5 billion and THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS donated EUR 244 million in charitable grants.

For more information about VELUX Group
About Living Places Copenhagen

In April 2023 the VELUX Group, EFFEKT, Artelia, and Enemærke & Petersen opened the doors to Living Places Copenhagen in the Railway District in Copenhagen. It is the first prototype of the overall Living Places concept, and the vision is to lead the way in the building industry and show how rethinking buildings can help solve some of the global climate and health challenges. The groundbreaking project demonstrates that it is possible to build homes with a CO2 footprint that is 2/3 lower per m2/year than the Danish standard while ensuring a first-class indoor climate.


For more information about Living Places Copenhagen