Circular Building: pre-fab construction with circular materials

The building industry is responsible for a large part of the CO2 pumped into the air daily. Using the principles for a circular economy, in which waste emission and energy leakage are minimised by lowing, closing and narrowing material and energy loops, the impact on the environment can be reduced. The Circular Building, designed and built by Arup, uses the Circular Economy principles, and is one of the first buildings in the UK to do so.

The goal of the project was to create a functioning building where all the components are implemented and utilised to their full potential and for the duration of their life cycle, while at the same time creating a comfortable and aesthetic environment for the user.

To make this happen, Arup and its partners refined the application of existing pre-fab construction techniques. They integrated open-source details with materials that are inherently circular. Rather than use mechanical fixings, the team produced and tested details that applied fine-tuned engineering.

The result is an extremely low-waste, self-supporting and demountable SIPS (structural insulated panel) wall system. Clamp connections between the wall and recycled steel frame ensure that both can be repurposed in the future. The cladding and decking are made from sustainably sourced treated timer, which is durable and recyclable.

The finishes and fittings throughout the interior were carefully selected to be recycled or recused after they served their function, while the carpet was supplied on a take-back scheme by Desso, who promised to refurbish and reuse the carpet at the end of its lifespan.

The living zone is cocooned in an acoustic wall system, which is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

The building also incorporated a system by Arup that uses sensors to monitor the internal environment, relaying data in a cloud hosted system linking together the operable skylights, blinds and lighting system, creating an optimised environment.

Each component was made to size for a specific place, while using a repetitive pattern as much as possible. Each panel has an individual QR code, which show the materials data.

The Circular Building is designed as a prototype for the 2016 London Design Festival.

Photos: Simon Kennedy
Image: Arup Associates (via v2com)