The circular economy challenges us to redesign the production and operation of the built environment. It envisions zero waste, keeping materials and resources at maximum use and value at all times. 

Arup was appointed to deliver a scoping study using circular economy principles to envisage the Old Oak and Park Royal regeneration project. 

The first its kind in London, the study assesses the main opportunities to minimise waste and create circular flows of materials for the United Kingdom’s largest regeneration site.

Moving beyond 'take-make-dispose'

The 650ha site has the scale and density to embody this approach, applying core principles to the community at the level of local services and business models. 

Our study looked at applying this approach at every level, from the production of individual components and assets to the operation of the entire development.

Our work fed directly into the planning process for the site, demonstrating how circular economic principles can benefit the scheme today, through development, and into the future.

Scenario planning for specific action

As part of the study, we developed four scenarios for the area, each focused on a different set of enabling factors and initiatives grounded in their physical context.

The Royal Garden: A zero waste urban garden fuelled by biological nutrients, green infrastructure, local energy and advanced logistics.

The Clean Tech Cluster: A cluster development supporting new circular-focused businesses and technological innovation, providing clean energy to the area.

The Adaptable Development: Adaptable developments are designed with circular principles built-in, from sustainable construction to flexible and smart space usage.

The Sharing Community: Digital platforms and lightweight technologies enable communities to build, operate and share neighbourhood spaces and resources.

Designing for future use

Assets and services at Old Oak and Park Royal will be designed for different lifespans and changing uses, rather than one fixed end use. Buildings and infrastructure will be designed to allow components to be swapped out, repaired, replaced and eventually reused.

By using these new circular economy organisational mechanisms and commercial incentives, Old Oak and Park Royal can become an exemplar neighbourhood for the collaborative and sustainable future of urban development.