Download below our design guidance | 2019

Download below the background document on circular design | 2019

Circular building design

Let’s design out waste

Today, more than ever, circular construction is on the agenda. This strategy is embedded in European, national and regional policy, and is addressed in private and public design assignments. How to build circular? Through well-thought and informed design choices, circular material flows can be enabled and encouraged. So, let’s design out waste!


Make yourself familiar with each design theme

Buildings, a dynamic environment  •  16 circular design qualities  •  A new role for architects



Greenbizz (Architectes Ass.) breaths sustainability. Its facades are bolted in a reversible way to the concrete structure. Photo: Detiffe.



Buildings, a dynamic environment

Buildings are all around us and form a dynamic environment in which – and through which – we interact. The constant reconstruction of our built environment has significant consequences on resource consumption and, therefore, the environment we inhabit. These consequences – unsustainable by nature – challenge conventional design and construction practice.


Questioning an unsustainable model

Some buildings are cherished forever, while others do not last long. Find out why buildings reach the end of their useful service life and are demolished when they are not yet outdated.

Discovering the alternatives

Conventionally we design our buildings as a durable solution for temporary problems. Service life extension and closing material loops are two alternative approaches. Which one do you take?

Understanding who might profit

In construction, many actors are involved. Read how five Brussels testimonials illustrate the interest in a circular built environment: the developer, the designer, the manufacturer, the investor and society.


Download the book in your language:

Buildings, a Dynamic Environment - EN

Gebouwen, een Dynamische Omgeving - NL

Le Bâti, un Environnement Dynamique - FR


Take me up again.

Reserve your paper copies.



The former Belle-Vue brewery (L’Escaut architectures) could be redeveloped thanks to its qualitative site and location. Photo: François Lichtlé.



Design qualities to guide and inspire building designers and clients

Specific design choices, extending the service life of buildings and closing material loops, are key instruments in the transition towards a circular construction economy. Here we bring together the insights and experience of design practitioners, researchers and other organisations from Brussels and beyond on designing buildings prepared for change and circularity.


Three design approaches

To shift the built environment and construction sector towards a circular practice, designers and clients can take some basic approaches. Do you design for longevity, disassembly and reuse?

16 design qualities

Circular design qualities enable more effective reuse, recycling or renewal of buildings and building components. Walk through them and set your ambitions from the start of the project.

A variety of design concepts and tips

In past and present design practices, a variety of design concepts combine circular design qualities, tailored to a specific project context. Make yourself familiar with some iconic cases.


Download the design guide in your language:

Design Qualities to Guide and Inspire Building Designers and Clients - EN

Ontwerpkwaliteiten om Architecten en Opdrachtgevers te Begeleiden en Inspireren - NL

Des Critères de Conception pour Guider et Inspirer - FR


Take me up again.

Reserve your paper copies.



This hunting lodge (BC architects & studies) is built of rammed earth, locally sourced and pure. Photo: BC architects & studies, BC materials.



The architect in a change-oriented construction sector

In the context of a growing interest in the long-term value of buildings, concurring with the transition towards an economy of closed material loops, new policy guidelines and client requirements are gradually changing the architect’s range of responsibilities: reuse-audits without project delays, component reuse while fulfilling new standards, or, material use in a reversible way.


Opportunity, or yet another constraint?

On some occasions, such demands are perceived as an opportunity to reduce the project’s (environmental) cost. On other occasions, the same demands are perceived as yet another constraint, for example during very competitive design calls.

Towards a responsibilities, skills and a new role

Based on the observation of two panel debates, the participating architects and engineers were invited to take position against several hypotheses. We present the outcomes as three reflections: the designer’s responsibilities, skills and role in a circular economy.


Read the outcomes in the book 'Buildings, a dynamic environment' (p.37-53).


Take me up again.



Denim insulation made of old jeans is safe and can be installed without wearing a mask. Photo: Arnaud Bouissou, Terra.



Interested in more insights? Find out related research project on the dedicated website.

Related research projects

Looking for project guidance or a tailored lecture? Our team of experts might help you out.

Research consultancy and services

Ready to bring circular design into practice, or in need of that extra boost?

Register for our learning network


Take me up again.










Building a Circular Economy

This research is made possible thanks to the Financial support of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Brussels-Capital Region for the research project Le Bâti Bruxellois : Source de nouveaux Matériaux (BBSM). We thank all designers, experts and policy makers for their participation in this research. Gratitude goes to Project partners UCLouvain, Rotor, and Belgian Building Research Institute.

Coordinator Waldo Galle, Authors Charlotte Cambier, Niels De Temmerman, Stijn Elsen, Waldo Galle, Wesley Lanckriet, Jeroen Poppe, Ineke Tavernier, Camille Vandervaeren, Project Supervisor Niels De Temmerman, Graphic Design Koen Verswijver, Publisher Vrije Universiteit Brussel, VUB Architectural Engineering, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, ISBN 978-94-91912-13-9, Date of Publication October 2019.