Duncan is Managing Principal for the Europe Region at Gensler – the world’s largest design and architecture firm with over 6,000 professionals across 50 offices worldwide.

As part of a series of Q&As, constructsteel is interviewing experts within the construction sector on aspects of steel’s performance and sustainability in the built environment.

What is Gensler’s focus when it comes to design and sustainability?

Gensler is focused on using the power of design to enhance the human experience and make the world a better place. In 2016 we signed up to the Paris Climate Accord and have committed to an ambitious goal of removing all green-house gases associated with the built environment.

“Steel has the best circular economy story of any commonly used construction material.”

What can you tell us about the work being done with constructsteel through the Zero Energy Building project?

constructsteel reached out to Gensler in 2020 to discuss working together to develop an affordable steel based Zero Energy House. We were excited by this project as it closely aligned with Gensler’s aims. We welcomed the opportunity to work directly with the steel industry as steel is a material widely used across the globe in construction of buildings. The potential to work with the steel industry to understand how to use steel in a low impact, carbon conscious fashion which can positively impact environmental performance of buildings was refreshing and pro-active and one we warmly welcomed. We were also delighted to hear that this project was to focus on creating affordable dwellings that can help address the world’s housing crisis, an issue that is close to Gensler as we seek to shape the future of cities across the globe.

What is the expected outcome of this collaboration?

Gensler have now partnered with constructsteel to design a 100m2, 2-storey family home that can be adapted depending on regional and climatic variables. Steel has the best circular economy story of any commonly used construction material. The aim is to prove how steel can be utilized to build a globally affordable, and reusable, net-zero house.

What are the steps being taken to reach this goal?

Through structured interactive workshops, Gensler and constructsteel partners have scrutinized varying modern and traditional construction methods, material selections, and regional approaches to delivering an affordable family house. A resilient home is one that encourages flexibility and longevity. In response to this challenge, we are creating a house that has flexibility and fluctuating occupant requirements at its core: The proposal can be disassembled, re-configured, and expanded when required. All with locally-focused resources and without substantial on-site works.

The intention of this initial workstream is to create a design that can then hopefully move into ‘prototype’ where we can realize a built demonstrator project that can be used to promote the sustainable use of steel to create affordable net zero housing. We look forward to sharing the results of the design process later this year!