New solutions in architecture: Landmarks on the path to sustainability

Anders Lendager
Jamie Sterling

13 May 2024

“The solutions to our problems – they really do exist.” – Anders Lendager

Architect Anders Lendager knows first-hand that solutions exist. He and his Copenhagen-based firm, Lendager Group, have long been using new, sustainable, and surprising methods of design and construction to mitigate climate change and meet sustainable development goals. And his work is having a wider impact. In the Danish capital, architecture and design are finding a purpose beyond their original form and function by attracting travellers and shaping how they think about the future. 

In our first two episodes this season, we learned about Copenhagen’s reputation and how travel supports and strengthens it. Now, Anders weighs in on how the city’s built environment serves as a lens through which travellers can see both the world’s challenges and their solutions.

“We need these lighthouses, these unicorns to show us the way. And we’ve been too slow to actually invest in these projects and getting them executed, because we just didn’t believe that it was possible to do. ” – Anders Lendager

In fact, he believes that sustainable buildings are lighthouses that show us that a better world is possible, and he wants to see that accelerate broad change. Two of his standout projects, Resource Rows and Upcycle House, exemplify this ethos. Using upcycled waste building materials, these housing projects prove that you can prioritize nature and communities on a typical budget. They are also sparking international travel and dialogue.  

You’ll also learn:

  • Why Copenhagen’s transformative lighthouse projects are guiding examples for the broader adoption of sustainable practices. 
  • How sustainable architecture not only benefits the environment but can also be economically advantageous, challenging misconceptions about the costs associated with sustainability.
  • How travel can be used as a tool for promoting sustainable practices.
  • The challenges hindering the widespread implementation of sustainable solutions on a global scale.
  • Why collaborative efforts between cities in embracing sustainability are key to urgently driving a more sustainable future.


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Show notes

Lendager Group – An architectural and consultancy firm advising on sustainability and the circular economy. 

Resource Rows – A housing project that uses upcycled bricks and waste wood to cut CO2 emissions. 

Upcycle House – An experimental project that uses champagne corks, pop cans, and shipping containers to find potential emission reductions in building materials. 

Episode transcript

David Archer: Hello and welcome to Travel Beyond. I’m David Archer, Editorial Manager at Destination Think. I’m recording from the coastal village of Daajing Giids, British Columbia in Haida Gwaii, the territory of the Haida Nation.

Sara Raymond de Booy: And I’m Sara Raymond de Booy, Associate Creative Director at Destination Think. I’m recording from Seattle, Washington on Coast Salish land, specifically that of the Duwamish, Suquamish, Stiligwamish, and Muckleshoot people.

David Archer: On this show, we partner with leading destinations to bring you inspiring solutions to the greatest challenges facing communities and the planet. We talk to the change makers who are addressing regenerative travel through action, and often from the bottom up.

Sara Raymond de Booy: We’re actively looking for the best examples of efforts to regenerate economies, communities, and ecosystems. So be sure to reach out if you have a story to share with us. 

Denmark is famous as an architecture and design capital, but this reputation wasn’t just built because their buildings look interesting and are pieces of art. Some of these advancements are done as experiments to prove that there’s a better way of thinking about urban design.

We can’t predict the future, but we can invent it. This idea is part of the philosophy at Lendager Group, the architecture firm where today’s guest, Anders Lendager, is the CEO and founder. Anders has an impressive resume. He’s dedicated his efforts to upcycling and circular economy principles in architecture, and he’s always emphasizing how waste can be used to build new things.

David Archer: His firm is devoted to sustainable architecture and also advises projects on circularity in the built environment, as well as in the green transition. So lovers of architecture should go to That’s L E N D A G E R dot com. Uh, I really enjoyed looking through their portfolio. It includes some designs like Karstadt Reparkt, which is a retail and office complex in Berlin, made of materials reclaimed from the original building site, and that’s set to open in 2025. There’s another one called Olympic Pavilion Denmark, which used 2,500 chairs reassembled to create pavilions at the Olympic Games and then at a global design fair in Milan.

And then one called the UN 17 village, which is a project that addresses all 17 UN sustainable development goals in one housing complex. It’s quite an undertaking. Well, each one of these are, and are pretty impressive for, for different reasons, but, they’ve all got this sustainability and circularity theme among them.

Sara Raymond de Booy: Anders thinks of Copenhagen and the projects within the city as lighthouses. And the role of these unicorns and lighthouses is that they can kind of show the world that better ways are possible. His work is really proving that sustainable building can be done within a budget as well.

David Archer: Yeah, I was impressed by that. That was kind of a lightbulb moment for me, seeing how so much building material can be reused, repurposed, disassembled, reconstructed. And I was thinking about how upcycling has been a cultural trend for quite a while. I mean, thrift stores have been around for forever, of course, but you see things like people using reclaimed wood for, to make arts and crafts projects or to renovate their kitchens, but I’m not sure that that upcycling idea has really been adopted on a huge scale.

Sara Raymond de Booy: And if it’s, if it’s starting to, it’s probably because of our guest today, in a way.

David Archer: Yeah, yeah, it seems like it.

Sara Raymond de Booy: So architecture and design in Copenhagen go really beyond and show us as well, how travel lets you see the challenges and solutions around the world more clearly. One thing that gets brought up in this episode a lot is that inspiring solutions are out there, but they’re not being utilized to their full potential. Yet.

David Archer: Yeah, that’s the keyword there, yet. Circularity has come up in a few of our podcasts, so things are percolating in different places, including in Aspen. In our fourth episode in Aspen, we spoke with Steve Skadron about that and his program at Colorado Mountain College. And then we also talked about circularity in the Netherlands when we visited Friesland.

So I see this, this circularity thread coming together in a lot of different ways. And in more remote places, I feel like circularity has been a necessity for a long time already. I mean, I certainly see that in Haida Gwaii, and I got that impression from Inuvik too. When you have less around, or when things are more expensive, you just need to reuse them more often.

David Archer: And sometimes you can also see that whole cycle of a product more clearly, you know. The car enters the island on the ferry, the car drives around, and then the car goes to the junkyard and you can kind of see its entire transition if you want.

Sara Raymond de Booy: Yeah. And it’s, it’s interesting as well to think about how travel can play a role in helping to spread some of these solutions and, and bring them from something that inspires an industry to something that inspires individuals and, and changes what they seek when building something new or, you know, providing input in their own communities.

And even seeing that life cycle, you know, if you arrive on the ferry to Haida Gwaii, you’re going to recognize that that’s how everything needs to get there. Right.

David Archer: Exactly.

Sara Raymond de Booy: So with that, let’s hear from Anders in this conversation with Destination Think CEO, Rodney Payne. 

Anders Lendager: My name is Anders Lendager. I’m an architect. I work with sustainability as kind of a primary design tool to create architecture and cities.

Rodney Payne: The word sustainability means a lot of different things to different people. Could you tell me how you think about sustainability?

Anders Lendager: The way that I think about sustainability is basically everything I do, every thought I have, everything I breathe is a way of creating sustainable transaction with my environment.

Which means that our buildings, our projects, our way of being needs to address sustainability. And so what is sustainability in reality? It’s a way of creating a better connection with the nature, with the environment and not disrupting, or you can say ruining, our our environment and our context where we are in.

Rodney Payne: What is your favorite neighborhood for a day out in Copenhagen?

Anders Lendager: My favorite neighborhood in Copenhagen is for sure one of the most central areas, Christianshavn, Christian town, which is one of the oldest parts of Copenhagen. You have to have been living there to understand that it’s a, it’s quite a unique place because it’s so central, but it’s a very local community. And when you stay there for a while, it starts to connect with you.

Tells it’s stories and that it’s been transforming over many hundred years, recycling materials, creating parks and nature. And that identity of being very dynamic as a very urban places and being very local and slow in evening time is something that’s a transponding what we need in our everyday life and where, which is very rare, in the large city, to experience.

Rodney Payne: Why do you travel?

Anders Lendager: The reason why I travel is, I have two ways of traveling. I have a way of traveling with my family, and then I have a way of traveling in my business and in my work. In my work, traveling is my excuse for making more impact. So I always look at my work and saying this travel, is it by train by foot by electric car or do I have to fly? And then I look at the impact of my work. If that can actually kind of counterweight my way of traveling. And I think that way of thinking is super important. When I travel with my family. We rarely fly. We’ve flown very few times. My kids remember only flying once.

And traveling is about connecting with new cultures and getting inspired and connecting your family. And we always connect with nature and go places where that inspires us and brings us closer together. So it’s two very different ways of traveling, where commute and contact between A and B is important, but the points where you are and have your holidays is a very important thing of, of a limited time where you need to inspire your family to have enough energy for the rest of the year.

Rodney Payne: Do you think it’s a failure of modern society that we need that, that we need to escape to recharge to get through the next year?

Anders Lendager: I think it is a failure in many ways that society asks us to not being able to, to get energy out of our everyday enough for us not to need to travel. But on the other hand, globalization and the need for connecting to different cultures has really been part of humans’ both development, but also a way of, of understanding different cultures and nations for not to go in war, but in higher degree, make love or have cultural exchange and bridge these things. So I think both for our next generations to come, our kids, it’s never been more important to understand also not only to travel to see cultural heritage, but also to see cultural decay or climate decay.

And I think that’s what we’ve been discussing always in my family. Going to a very large city in Barcelona this summer, super warm. Have very restrict ways of using water, and the kids, of course, asking, Why is that? How can that happen? And I think it’s important not only to travel to see beauty, but also travel to see the challenges that they’re facing.

So we do both and explain these things to understand. What is it that we are reaching or need to spend time on finding solutions for? And that’s just as important as traveling to see something beautiful or a castle that I was talking about. Something that happened many, many years ago. This is our future.

So I think traveling is maybe more about traveling to see both challenges and potentials of what the future is bringing our next generations, because they’re so frustrated and afraid, and you have to address this also in the way that tourism isn’t only about happy smiles. It’s also about understanding challenges and discussing them and bring that home for you to find potential solutions or at least engage with this instead of pushing it away. And I think that is also a part of tourism in the future and should be already.

Rodney Payne: As, as we grapple with what should the future of tourism be on a warming planet where we’re, where life is less abundant perhaps in terms of natural resources, one of the sort of themes that keeps emerging is the ability of the travel experience to show people a different way of life. And I like what you’ve just added to that in terms of, show people the wrong ways of doing things and what that can lead to. 

When I look at some of the projects that you’ve done and that you’re pitching at the moment, I get the sense that your work is a way for you to show people possibility. Could you talk about some of the projects, just for a minute or two, that you, that you’re really proud of, that you’ve done, or that you want to do, and how that can change people’s hearts and minds and be sort of an example for others to follow?

Anders Lendager: Sure. I would like to just briefly touch on some of the projects that we’ve done that has been, I hope, inspiring. And I think the past 12 years, I’ve been working with extremely resource efficient projects where that’s a very big part of the sustainability equation that often lead to a social dimension of the way that people lives in these resource efficient houses.

We’ve built residential housing projects seven, eight years ago, where we were building them, a commercial project, row houses and apartments built out of waste. Waste concrete, waste bricks, waste wood, waste windows. And nobody believed that that would ever be possible to do within a normal budget. And all of a sudden we succeeded with building these projects within budget. Saving a lot of CO2 and basically cleaning up tons of wastes that would have been just landfill. 

Those two projects we did, Upcycle House and the Resource Rows, has been shown to so many people and so many nations that came to see them. The people living there knows that many people want to see them, but it’s almost a problem that there are so many nationalities coming to see these projects. But I think everyone’s so proud that such a normal project can communicate at such a big level. To uh, Korea, to many places in the world that are interested in how could that be possible, because it was just as cheap as building a new project with new materials, virgin materials, to build one with waste.

Rodney Payne: Do you feel a sense of urgency around needing to make changes in how we’re living?

Anders Lendager: I certainly think there’s an urgency in how we’re living. There is on so many different levels, but the radical change that we need to have in our way of living and thinking is probably where I’m most concerned of how that change is going to happen. Because it’s a very personal choice to live sustainable. And what makes you change behavior? And it has to happen quickly, and it has to happen on a very large scale. 

Rodney Payne: So do you think the solutions to our problems exist?

Anders Lendager: The solutions to our problems, they really do exist. The positive thing for me is that I’ve been working with this for so many years that I can see that these innovations that shows that there is actually a way of doing this differently and actually create solutions and answers to the global problems. They’re there.

The frustrating part is that it’s not being scaled. We’re not doing quick enough, and we’re not getting governmental support to make this change. It fits our necessity in a change in behavior.

Rodney Payne: People’s ability to travel, to see solutions, and touch them, and feel them, and experience them, and realize that they’re not actually scary, and that often they’re better, is very unique and remarkable.

Do you think that’s something that travel can bring to accelerate progress in other parts of the world?

Anders Lendager: I absolutely see there’s a potential of traveling to see that there are solutions that you can bring home and that they actually give you a better experience than non-sustainable experiences. We’ve seen it in Copenhagen for many years with bicycles.

We’ve been bicycling in Copenhagen for as many years you can go back, bikes in Copenhagen, from horses to bikes rather than from horses to a car city. Maybe because of the scale of Copenhagen, the bikes has been the perfect choice. And it’s been like that, and it still is.

And seeing that growing all over the world. New York, wherever they want to include this way of biking using Copenhagen as an example. And many tourists have been coming to Denmark to try and take a bike around. We have many of our clients saying, we have rented bikes so we can drive around seeing your projects.

They love it. It’s the coolest thing. And I think that’s just one example of sustainable transport that’s something that you go to experience. You also have foodies that are traveling because they want to have sustainable food. And they say it makes no sense to travel to eat at Noma with your private jet. But still it makes sense to understand that local harvesting of food makes super good sense. And it creates high level food and menus all over the world. 

And I think these type of experiences is again as, it’s not about seeing cultural heritage. It’s seeing about the culture of future. And that’s worth traveling for. And that’s counterleave or maybe your CO2 impact in actually traveling to a place where you see and experience, you know, furniture is made out of recycled materials, infrastructure that is not using any CO2, energy efficient housing, buildings, and so on.

And building high rises out of waste, as we’re doing in Aarhus right now, it’s an 80-meter-high building out of wood and waste. And I think that’s the first time in the world you’re doing something like that. That is something people want to see. 

Rodney Payne: Could you tell me about the World First project?

Anders Lendager: Yeah so, one of first projects in the world that are using waste and wood in a high rise is a project that we’re doing in Aarhus. And it’s an 80-meter-high building. It’s wood and it’s a lot of waste materials. So even waste windmill wings that are cut up, which is a huge problem globally, what to do with those windmill wings. We’re cutting them up and using them as solar shading on the building.  Aluminum roof sheets from barns around the countryside has been collected. Normally you just remelt them. They’re the whole facade on this quite exclusive office building, just directly reused. All the materials inside are waste wood, waste textile, waste PET.

And all of a sudden, a building becomes the result of harvesting an urban waste community that we’ve created over many, many decades of waste can become a building.

Rodney Payne: It’s very inspiring. What’s holding us back? Why aren’t we doing this at a greater scale more quickly?

Anders Lendager: The reason why we are not doing this at a greater scale is because we need these lighthouses, these unicorns, to show us the way. And we’ve been too slow to actually invest in these projects and getting them executed, because we just didn’t believe that it was possible to do. And now, as our client is saying, for us there is no way back. They’ve been building the classical way for the past 20 years and, and now this is the only way forward.

So I think it’s a, again, a behavioral change in that there are solutions. And it’s creating fantastic business. And I think that’s the part of the equation that sustainability and business are each other’s prerequisites. It’s not opposites. And it’s been that since the seventies where everybody is explaining as well, if you do it sustainable, yeah, it costs you, or it’s lower quality, or you have to kind of just get less instead of getting more. 

I think what we’re seeing now is sustainability is the opposite. It’s giving you way more back, both economically, on an environmental level, but also on your experience of these, these things. And I think that’s worth going for. Wanting to experience what sustainability is is a fantastic thing.

And it gives you a belief in the future instead of a disbelief, and I think that’s really also what our young generations need. We need to create those lights out there that they can go for. It’s not the total solution, but right now it’s dark. It’s a dark future for many young people to look into, and we need to create these spots, these small stars out there that they can go for. And I think these projects are it. 

Rodney Payne: Where does your, your care and concern come from? You mentioned you have children. Is that part of it? Like what caused you to become environmentally minded? 

Anders Lendager: It comes from three places. First is, of course, my, my kids and my family. The second one is the way that I brought up. I have old parents. They’re uh basically from the Second World War. And so I’m been brought up with that. You don’t buy anything new. You use everything as long as you can. And what you have, you transform to what you want.

So not a new bike just because you need one, you transform it, you rebuild it. When you’re tired of your drum set, you convert it to a furniture. When you’re, you have some waste wood, you convert it to a furniture, if you need it. You have your resources around you, and you have your hands and your energy to transform it to what you need. And I think that’s how I’ve been brought up. You’re allowed to do everything, but you’re not buying anything new. So that’s the second thing. 

And the third thing is, I think, the fact that I did a thesis project, which was a research station in the Antarctic. And there was a deep dive into polar scientists’ work. And this is now 20 years ago where I understood with these ice core drillings how bad it was back then. And not understanding that it was kind of like no one reacted. And back then I decided that I, my career would be about finding solutions for that. Because even the scientists that knew this was wrong were behaving just like everyone else. They didn’t react to it. And so I think it’s these three things that, combined, has created what I do today.

Rodney Payne: When you think about Copenhagen, do you think the city is on the right track? I come here and I feel very inspired. But as a resident of Copenhagen, do you think Copenhagen is moving in the right direction? And quickly enough?

Anders Lendager: So do I think that Copenhagen is moving in the right direction? I think being born here, raised and having my career here, I truly believe that we’re doing something right. There are some things that Copenhagen can do. 

But there’s also a very big gap between what’s possible and what is being done on large scale. And there I don’t think that Copenhagen is very far. There is a lot of talk. Few projects that are pushing the agenda, but where we need to go, we need to go quickly. And there personally I feel that we need to accelerate this a lot. I can see, compared to many other cities that I’ve been in, that Copenhagen has the advantage of our culture, willingness to think innovative, implement it, and try it.

And then Copenhagen is also a city that likes to see other cities follow. Sometimes when you’re, you’re a first mover, like every first mover and entrepreneur, all of a sudden, if no one follows you at a certain point, you have to stop and say, am I doing something wrong? Why are they not also with me?

Why are Barcelona, Berlin, London? Why are they not also doing the same? And I think that’s where sometimes Copenhagen and Danes, we stop. Because we need the world to follow us as well and show that this is actually also the way to go forward. And I think that’s, again, a cultural exchange of ideas and how cities develop that we need also to see that we’re not, we’re helping and we’re doing the right thing, but it needs to scale. And we need someone to agree that this is the right way to go. That you can’t do it alone. You have to walk together with someone else.

Rodney Payne: You need a second dancer. You need a dance partner or more. 

Anders Lendager: Yeah, exactly. 

Rodney Payne: Who are Copenhagen’s dance partners?

Anders Lendager: Copenhagen is a front runner, but surely also Amsterdam, within what I’ve been doing all my career with the recycling and circular economy. They’ve been leading that for years. And and I think that’s the two main cities that has been driving this agenda really, really far. 

On energy, there are other cities that are far ahead. I think that’s really inspiring also on infrastructure. For sure there are cities that are really good at that interpretation of how to move public transportation in a brilliant way.

But it’s also clear to me that are a lot of European cities and international cities that are way, way, behind. That hasn’t really tapped into this agenda at all. And it hasn’t seemed that there are actually a lot of solutions out there they could incorporate to accelerate this and jumpstart this very needed transition to a sustainable future.

Rodney Payne: Could you tell me a little bit about the UN 17 project that you’re working on, your involvement with the U. N. Accelerator, and what you hope will be achieved from that project? 

Anders Lendager: So we did a project called the UN 17. It’s a housing project, among others, that converted the UN SDGs goals to a design tool. And for me, it was it was really interesting that We have some global goals that so many countries has agreed on to follow and formulate. The problem with it is that it’s just goals and they can easily be used for greenwashing. They can also end up just being goals. And what we wanted to do was to convert them to a design tool where you actually executed every 17 goals in a building. And when you execute that in a building, what does that then become? 

For a project like this, it’s a very high ambition. And of course, you don’t always achieve all your targets because between the 17 goals, there are 249 sub- categories. And how do you address that?

But I think it’s such an important thing, because what we found out was that, if you actually put the agenda on these innovative and progressive targets on a building, then education, which is, one of the bullet points in the 17 SDGs, becomes evident that, of course, you’re creating knowledge. Schools, politicians, they’re coming to know and see what you’ve been doing. You’re integrating biodiversity, water, you’re asking questions, not just about, Urbanity and architecture, but actually about some of the global challenges and leading them into a local solution that can feed back on a global perspective, and I think that is really, really interesting.

Rodney Payne: Do you think the UN SDGs are helping quickly enough? Are they having the desired impact as quickly as we need them to?

Anders Lendager: I think looking at this summer, the answer would be surely no. If you’re looking at the impact the UN SDGs has had just in the fact of the global knowledge of these 17 goals and problems, because they’re there because we have a problem, they wouldn’t have been addressed and embedded in our minds the way they are today without having been addressed the way that they have been. And I consider that a very big success with something that’s extremely complex. I always look back, one year, two years, five years and 10 years and trying to remember how I was communicating and working with people about these topics. And 10 years ago, there wasn’t even a language for what we’re talking about now. Our conversation would have been different. It would have been talking about what is upcycling. I would have to explain a circular economy. Sustainability would be an explainer. Rather than talking about it as a critique of the 17 points, are they actually making a change? That’s a success. 

Then you can say, are they embedded hardly enough in companies, in national strategies? And that’s very different-looking in a global perspective. Some places they are a lot. Some places they are just, as I’m saying, as a kind of more, like a greenwashing strategy for a lot of companies. But they’re there, and it’s a fantastic tool set to bridge industries, and industries and politics, and that’s really interesting, 

Rodney Payne: Yeah, I agree. It’s given us common language that we can use all over the world, and shorthand to accelerate communication.

For someone who’s very conscious of flying and lives in a city that the people care a lot about their footprint and their impact on the world, how do you think we reconcile the negative impact of flying? And, thinking about how easy it is to get on an airplane, how affordable it is to get on an airplane or on a cruise ship, and how much of those emissions have been externalized and left in international waters or international airspace, when common knowledge catches up, what happens, do you think? 

Anders Lendager: I think there’s a quite easy answer to this.

One of the problems with this type of concern is that the only thing we don’t capitalize is negative impact on the environment. And the questions I always get, like, why do we not accelerate all of these things, is that, well, If a cup of cement is cheaper than a cup of water, there you have your answer. And if you don’t put that real value on these impacts, then you will never see both a positive behavior, or a positive scale of these things, because of course we need air traveling. But do we need it for that price? It’s the wrong price for the impact on the environment and our behavior. It’s the wrong price when you have a cup of cement being cheaper than water.

How would you ever convince anyone to build differently? And the impact on the environment with that cup of cement is so high that it should have been 10 times the price. And when you don’t capitalize the impact on the environment and how vulnerable the environment is from this behavior, and we’re seeing more and more CO2 in the atmosphere, year after year, then it’s difficult to see that there is a, is other solution than taxing, creating policies that create this economic price difference. And then it’s not about sustainability. It’s about economy. But it is a very powerful tool that we need to address, so that we travel less or pay the right price. That we build less or pay the right price, so this economy can be converted into sustainable solutions. Or at least, that it’s just as cheap as buying a sustainable solution as a not sustainable solution.

Rodney Payne: I love the way you’ve articulated that. And then if we layer in the, the subsidies that are still propping up the old world. I mean, even if you took that out of agriculture and transportation and building with concrete, the whole world opens up in terms of opportunities to reallocate those subsidies.

If there was the correct pricing, if we had a magic wand and I could correctly price emissions from moving people around, and you could correctly price concrete and other building materials, what happens?

Anders Lendager: It’s a very good question. I think that then the alternatives start to scale. We’re so afraid of traditional industries and economies collapsing, so we keep them fakely alive. If we, instead of keeping this alive fake, basically said, well, let’s let the market, do what market does. But all of a sudden the investment, the money moves from the cheap cement to some fair wood or another building material, it’s the same money, but they’re invested in something else. 

What would also happen would be that we would use fewer resources, but still, you know, transform old buildings instead of just dozing them down. It’s insane that we haven’t thought that the, you know, existing buildings is the most impactful thing to save, instead of just taking them down, thinking about recycling them, putting them into a road and then feel good about it, instead of keeping them when you build new square meters.

And I think the same thing goes for transport and travelling, that you would then set focus on traveling in a different way. Trains, different types of transport. And when you had to move, take an airplane, they would need to find solutions for the way of using gas, how to compensate. But we would also have to accept that there would be fewer plane companies or fewer air travel, but more types of, different types of traveling.

We lost track that it’s okay that things dies because they’re not complying with what we need to happen. We’re keeping something vaguely alive. That is just ruining our environment, exhausting a lot of CO2 instead of letting them die if they can’t comply with what we need. We would have done that with all kind of other industries, but not these ones.

They are somehow magically in a bubble where we keep them alive.

Rodney Payne: When you look at other cities in the world, what do you wish you could tell them?

Anders Lendager: I really wish that for many cities, especially some of the largest ones in the development countries, that they would absorb some of these trends immediately. And I would really hope that they would catapult themselves over what we’ve done and how we do things now that we know are wrong, to only look at the potential of doing the right solutions that we know are out there. They are also the countries and cities that has the largest possibility of scaling these things.

Rodney Payne: Based on your work and what you’ve seen and experienced, what could a really positive future look like?

Anders Lendager: A very positive future would look like a lot of organic materials in the buildings. Wood. Straw. Hemp. A lot of that. Waste from agriculture becoming building materials. So basically having carbon storage. On the other hand, waste materials from all kinds of industries that becomes new building materials stored in buildings because they are there for minimum 50 years.

So it’s a perfect storage of carbon instead of sequestering or capturing carbon and believing that you can put it into the ground. Here it is. We already spent energy on creating it, just harvest it and build with it. And on the other hand, investing heavily in renewable energies. 

I have this, this image in my head of unlimited access to renewable energy, what that would happen to cities. And what for sure would happen for buildings that I’m doing is that the wall, instead of being 60 centimeters thick, would become way thinner. And becoming a lighter building, a totally different type of architecture. And, It would be because you didn’t have to insulate, you wouldn’t have to use that much materials on three layered windows and so on, more and more, and heavier buildings, but maybe make them lighter, because energy isn’t a problem.

And that’s just an image of accelerating one area, and all of a sudden it’s opening up for many other fields that then needs to change and become more positive and have less impact. And I think that’s a positive, and I think a very believable future that we’re looking into, where the abundance of resources just isn’t there, globally. So the cities that needs to develop and build, they can’t find their materials, so they have to look elsewhere. And these two areas and the energy that’s there is something we can do tomorrow. 

Rodney Payne: I got one last question to finish on. What brings you the most joy in life?

Anders Lendager: There’s two things. With work, the biggest joy is when the projects are finished and people has taking them over, and their life, where their families are creating more sustainable lifestyle, and they’re coming up with new ideas, where we’ve created kind of the foundation for them and they’re taking them over. That is so joyful, because that’s scaling, through people, our ideas of sustainability and taking them further. That’s some of the most beautiful things to see. 

Then obviously there is to see both my kids and young people will lighten their eyes when they find solutions for a sustainable future, that it interests them. That they’re not putting the responsibility on everyone else, but taking them in and trying to find solutions. That it comes so natural to take a sustainable solution, even though they’re 5, 7, 8 years old, or teenagers. That generation has it so much under their skin, even though they have their phones and we think they’re getting ruined. They’re connecting. They know that they need to do something different. That is such a joy.

David Archer: This has been Travel Beyond presented by Destination Think. And you just heard from architect and CEO Anders Lendager. We’ll include links to more resources on the blog for this episode at 

My co-host and co-producer is Sara Raymond de Booy. This episode has been produced and has theme music composed by me, David Archer. Lindsay Payne and Annika Rautiola provided production support. 

We would like to thank Wonderful Copenhagen for their support in creating this podcast season with us and for their willingness to be bold. You can help more people find this show by subscribing and by leaving a rating and review on Apple podcasts or Spotify.

Next time we’ll learn how two Copenhagen entrepreneurs are using tourism experiences to spread the word about Danish design, sustainability, and more. See you then.


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