© Maren Boedeker

© Maren Bödeker


An important theme of applied research is the realization of climate adapted, energy efficient, under environmentally friendly aspects constructed buildings unfolding to an innovative architectural concept. 

This attitude applies as well to existing buildings necessarily being modernized or refurbished as well as equally being considered when building new. As generic this might sound, it has not trickled through to the AEC industry and seen as a necessity to be sustainable in an all encompassing approach, not merely aiming at credentials, certificates or other awards which might increase the value of a commodity. Quantifying methods are one way of detecting and measuring building performance aspects. 

Existing buildings, especially certain building typologies (e.g. office buildings or even certain reoccurring building components produced and used throughout specific periods of time) are increasingly emphasized as themes. Quality criteria of buildings are much more difficult to capture and must be descriptive. Deciding on these will become a future challenge.

Research clearly shows, that dealing with buildings in existing contexts is considered a main focus. The densification of cities is an ongoing topic, which can be achieved without dissolving the embodied energy, which exists through the built environment. This is one major aspect. Another aspect at the same time being respected when activating existing structures is the reduction of necessary new energy – site management, used resources / materials, actual construction etc. - for new buildings in identical locations, which often do not achieve higher quality architecture or extended life cycles. Beyond this, the social culture value of existing structures has not been fully assessed. This is an underlying momentum for reconsidering often disrespected buildings erected in the sixties and seventies or even earlier. Rooftop extensions to existing structures are one way of adding to the densification using the potentials of the buildings while simultaneously refurbishing the envelope and considering reuse, recycling.

The approach is to work on areas that have been highly neglected. Architects often prefer to focus on the „new building object“ and less on existing structures, especially of those eras, which at the moment are deemed unattractive but will be of high importance to the future architectural profession. 

New building components or their further development for new industrial buildings as well as for refurbishing have been a further undertaking of research progress. As shown in current projects, securing a major grant in this area allows and demands a close collaboration with representatives of the industry. (Both grants by the AIF FOSTA are comparable to NSERC grants in Canada.)

Creative Activities

In my professional practice as an architect, I have taken the opportunity to establish a relationship with my clients and users allowing them to realize the necessity of following the best possible solution in context, use and sustainability as well as an environmentally sound building. The projects executed reflect these aspects on many levels and not only become a built statement but also a touchstone for my theoretical research. 

Architectural Education

In addition to restructuring the teaching methods and content of the undergraduate programs at the TU Dortmund, I also took on the responsibility of directing the research of the institute. Through this experience I authored “The Manual for Design and Building Construction”, which was first published in 2002 and then subsequently. In this design and construction manual, architectural elements are never regarded as isolated from each other and are always placed in their architectural context of the building to be designed. This manual in turn provides the standard and content of the teaching structure, which emphasizes fundamental principles of design and building construction. 

At another stage for educating architects, advancing the one mentioned above, is my initiation of a comprehensive design and construction manual for students, which unfolds the complexity of building using simple comprehensive designs and detailing to sequentially laying out the process inherent to a building of moderate scale. At a design and management scale of construction and economics it highlights very precisely the interface between trades; how these must collaborate and when and how design processes have to be steered to reach a specific architectural objective.

A simple example of how all program areas become interdependent in research and teaching is through the DOE (Department of Energy, USA) awards won by a team of students - projecting a realistic project and meeting goals beyond what is standard at the moment and at the same time making a mark to what future parameters for residential building will be, is one of the best methods for learning in a university environment.