New ideas to help unleash UN development goals

14 September 2017
1000 global talents shared ideas at the world’s first-ever SDG talent festival. At the closing event in Aarhus, Ramboll awarded best prototype idea and had a winning hand in what could be the Google of demolition.
Unleash awards

Unleash awards


Søren Staugaard Nielsen

Country Market Director for RMC
T: +45 5161 7886
M: +45 5161 7886

Gitte Gylling Hammershøj Olesen

Chief Consultant, Sustainability specialist, team leader
T: +45 51612014

By Martin Christiansen and Michael Rothenborg

Smarter demolition and re-use of abandoned buildings could be one of the ways to help realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the so-called SDGs.

The idea from young Ramboll engineer Gitte Gylling and an international team took home an award for Urban Sustainability at the first-ever Unleash event where talents had ventured to Denmark from all over the world to foster innovative ideas to promote sustainable development.

Ramboll was also involved in other ways: The Rambøll Foundation is among one of the Unleash Foundation Partners having donated 1 million DKK as a testimony to the initiative’s global potential to help progress the Sustainable Development Goals. A priority area for Ramboll and companies alike as well as for leaders and influencers like Danish PM, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, and tech-investor/actor Ashton Kutcher who were all part of the closing event.

Best prototype

Yesterday, the Unleash closing ceremony that concluded 9 days of hard work for 1000 global talents, Ramboll awarded a team of global talents with the ‘Best Prototype Award’ in a closing ceremony.

The team - comprising talents from the US, Singapore, Bangladesh, and Syria - was honored on stage by member of the Rambøll Foundation, Søren Staugaard Nielsen and Head of UN Development Programme, Achim Steiner. Their idea was to make use of Virtual Reality so that young people in first world countries could help educate their peers in e.g. Syria whilst at the same time get a better idea of what it is like to be a refugee.

“I am deeply impressed with level of talent and the degree of maturity of the many ideas – you have to consider that the teams have only worked on the ideas for a week. Also, it pays off to have talents from well over 100 countries coming together. The ideas are truly global and it is this kind of scale and scope we need to tackle the world’s most pressing issues”, says Staugaard Nielsen.

On top of the award, Ramboll will closely follow one of the many teams and – supported by the Rambøll Foundation - donate 100 hours of sparring and consulting over the next year to help bring the idea to market.

Demolition 4 Design

The Urban Sustainability winner Ramboll engineer Gitte Gylling was in a team with talents from France, the US, Nigeria, Denmark, and Australia*. Their ideation and nights of little sleep paid off as they won the category ‘Urban Sustainability’ ahead of 17 other teams.

The idea called Demolition 4 Design is envisioned to be the Google of demolition, explains Gylling:
“In Denmark there are more than 50,000 abandoned buildings. In a city like Detroit the number hits 70,000. Not only are they depressing monuments of better days, they are also lost income for the owner and most importantly an untapped amount of building supply. 50% of all landfill materials stem from building supply and they are all exhaustible resources - so we need to think differently”.

Technology in play

The underlying problem however, is the lack of knowledge related to the abandoned buildings. And this is where technology comes into play, says Gylling:

“Currently, we know too little about the material in the buildings so we have crafted a prototype solution to scan the building lot, possibly by the use of drones, to know what it consists of. Then this information should be stored in a databased that would allow architects to design new houses, schools or the likes based on the materials available”.
UnleashLab is expected to continue each year in different parts of the world till 2030 following the end of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

*The entire winning team in Urban Sustainability:

Nicholas Ramsomé, Danish. Employed at Lendager Group Zoé Bezpalko, French. Employed at Autodesk USA
Clare McCracken, Australian. Employed at RMIT University
Kunmi Odufuye, Nigerian. Employed at Shelter Afrique
Gitte Gylling Olesen, Danish. Employed at Ramboll Denmark


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