Yes, it is 3/14 – at least in the U.S. – and what better way to celebrate Pi Day than brushing up on Doughnut Economics and Circular Construction
Doughnut Economics is the brain child of British Economist Kate Raworth. DEAL (Doughnut Economics Action Lab), defines the Doughnut as, ‘offer[ing] a vision of what it means for humanity to thrive in the 21st century – and Doughnut Economics explores the mindset and ways of thinking needed to get us there.’ Both Circular Construction and Doughnut Economics have been finding inroads to businesses, non-profits, the European Green Deal, the New European Bauhaus, and even city budgets. In 2021, Amsterdam passed the Amsterdam Circular Strategy 2020-25, committing to taking the first steps towards to being a circular city by 2050.
The built environment represents a massive consumption of finite resources. Moving beyond a wasteful and carbon-intensive status quo towards circularity frees up limited resources and has the potential to save tens of billions annually. It will also result in the reduction in massive amount of carbon emissions, creation of new jobs, and improving productivity – an area the construction industry has seriously lagged in for decades.
Circular Construction requires collaboration and knowledge share. It includes strategies like design for disassembly, re-using, re-purposing, refurbishing, re-manufacturing, upcycling, and a personal favorite – urban mining. Resource-efficient design, optimization, reversible connections, prefabrication, and flexibility are critical components of circular construction.
Post-COVID, we’ve been involved with discussions regarding office to residential conversions. What has become obvious in these discussions is that the thick floor plates utilized in the U.S. severely limit floor plan flexibility for a mix of residential unit types and sizes, as one would find with thinner floor plates found in other countries, like Germany.
Buildings that are adaptable to climate change ensuring a longer lifespan, are a critical component of circular construction, and reducing resource consumption. As with passivhaus, and prioritizing decarbonized buildings – circular construction is where the global construction industry – and we at Larch Lab – are headed.
Here are some of our favorite resources on the subject:
Kate Raworth’s excellent Ted Talk on Doughnut Economics.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s video #46: Building with a Circular Economy.
The Open Building Manifesto on flexible, adaptive, co-created buildings.
De architecten cie’s e-book, ‘Lessons in Circularity’ (pdf)
Arup’s report, ‘The Circular Economy in the Built Environment (pdf)
Horizon Europe and New European Bauhaus NEXUS report (link)
ARCHITECTS! Climate Action Network epic nine-episode lunchtime series on circular construction.
Metabolic’s Spatial analysis of Amsterdam as a circular metabolism report.
GAAGA’s Open Building presentation on CiWoCo in Amsterdam.