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Tomorrow's buildings: Circular economy prototype shows the future

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A group of organisations in the built environment have collaborated on the UK’s first building entirely designed and built according to the principles of the so-called circular economy.

The Built Environment Trust, working alongside Arup, Frener & Reifer and BAM, has unveiled a new prototype circular building which it hopes influences future construction practices.

The building has been erected outside The Building Centre in Store Street, London, as part of The Circular Living exhibition at the London Design Festival. It is made of components that are completely non-toxic, mostly natural and easily recyclable or upcyclable. The whole structure is made of prefabricated elements that can be easily taken apart and used to build another, different, house elsewhere.

It is hoped the project will spark further discussion in the construction sector about the move towards a circular economy and make the industry think differently about materials and building processes.

The building throws up ideas such as the avoidance of wet trades, leasing of materials and products rather than purchasing them, maximising offsite fabrication and choosing mechanical and push-fit connections rather than adhesives to allow deconstruction

Lewis Blackwell, executive director, The Building Centre told CM: “What we’re hoping is that this project will help with a fundamental rethink on how we think about resources.

“The building uses a cradle-to-cradle approach, with all materials able to be upcycled rather than recycled or downcycled.

“The circular economy and its principles have started to come on the political radar and we want to help push the ideas forward.”

“For example, with this building, all the steel has been lent by Mittal, this sparks the idea about building ownership and different models that could be used in the future. Companies could lease their products for the duration of the building and then use them elsewhere.”

Nitesh Magdani, director of sustainability, BAM Construct UK, said: “The circular building exemplifies BAM’s aim of achieving a truly regenerative construction industry. We are reinforcing learnings from our other circular projects specific to the UK market and supply chain.

“This is invaluable for our project partners and to also educate our own design, construction and energy divisions, ensuring buildings perform efficiently over their lifecycle.

The circular building opened yesterday and will stay open until 8 October. The Circular Living exhibition closes on 28 September.

Both projects are free to visit.

Read more about the circular economy

EU calls on industry to put a spin on products

Circular economy: the world keeps turning

The building uses a cradle-to-cradle approach, with all materials able to be upcycled rather than recycled or downcycled. The circular economy and its principles have started to come on the political radar and we want to help push the ideas forward.– Lewis Blackwell, The Building Centre