News and Events

The Circular Building: the most advanced reusable building yet

Charlotte S Charlotte Schofield UKMEA Press Office,Leeds
19 September 2016

A building designed and constructed out of fully re-useable components, is being showcased as part of the London Design Festival to demonstrate how circular economy thinking can be applied to the built environment.

Developed by Arup, Frener & Reifer, BAM Construction and The Built Environment Trust the prototype seeks to explore how the industry can work towards zero waste. Typically, the construction industry operates within a linear economy of ‘make, use, dispose’ yet unlike most structures, the Circular Building is designed for all the elements to be dis-assembled and re-used.

This full-scale prototype is intelligently designed and constructed with materials that can be removed with minimum damage, helping each component to retain its value. Digital technology is used to ‘tag’ all items, including everything from window frames to individual fixings, each with a unique QR code containing information allowing it to be reused.

All the data collected from the build can be viewed using a Building Information Model. This virtual ‘Materials Database’ helps to make the project an excellent example of how to design and build using circular economy principles. A high percentage of materials and products sourced with a ‘cradle to cradle’ design ethos have been donated by a number of partners, collaborating on this prototype.

The Circular Building, along with the newly launched Arup study “The Circular Economy in the Built Environment”, seeks to accelerate the shift to a circular economy.

Very few have tried to apply circular economy principles to the built environment. By participating in this experiment our aim has been to test if this approach could be widely adopted. The Circular Building shows that through collaboration and digital technology, we can design buildings where the materials can be re-used. As an industry, we should aim to eliminate waste and design for re-use.

- Stuart Smith, Director, Arup

The prototype is on display at The Building Centre as part of LDF 2016 programme which runs from the 17th – 25th of September and The Circular Building is open to the public from Monday 19th September until Friday 7th October 2016.

The firm’s support of the design community is visible more widely across London. Arup engineers contributed to Architect Alison Brooks’ “The Smile”, which is the landmark project at this year’s London Design Festival, and Barber & Osgerby's "Forecast” at the inaugural London Design Biennale.

Arup provided expertise in timber research on The Smile, a gravity-defying 34m long, 3m high, upside down wooden arc, to show case the structural benefits of cross-laminated hardwood. Arup engineered the giant wind-powered sculpture “Forecast”, a wind responsive weathervane which is composed of three rotating elements inspired by weather measuring instruments.