Circular and change-oriented construction for designers

Learning Network for Circular and Change-Oriented Building

What if, when we demolish a building, we do not immediately think of waste, but of a rich package of raw materials and building products that are released for reuse? It is possible, if designers take this into account from the start of their concept and the right building materials and techniques are chosen. This innovative way of thinking can have a positive effect on our ecological footprint and encourage manufacturers, designers and builders alike to innovate.

Interest in circular and change-oriented construction is growing, and clients of construction projects are increasingly making it a priority. Researchers and pioneers have already taken promising steps, but in order to speak of a real cultural change, this knowledge must be disseminated on a broader scale.

That is why the architectural organisation NAV and the TRANSFORM Research Team of the VUB have set up the Atelier Circulair project. The aim is twofold. On the one hand, we want to increase the knowledge of architects and engineers about circular and change-oriented building and encourage knowledge-sharing through a learning network in which precursors and followers meet each other.

On the other hand, we also want to undertake a number of actions aimed at sensitising and informing a broader target group of engineers and architects, for example via information evenings or via articles in (professional) journals, theme editions, websites and digital newsletters.

Netwerk Architecten Vlaanderen

Partners VUB Architectural Engineering



  1. We organised two kick-off events where almost 300 architects and engineers were introduced to the concept of circular construction and gained insight into the basic concepts, the Flemish context and the role of the architect in this story.
  2. Via two trajectories of our learning network 'Atelier Circulair', 30 architects were able to share their experiences about circular and change-oriented design and learn from experts in the field during eight monthly meetings.
  3. We published a booklet: Circular and Change-Oriented Building for Designers'. It contains an overview of different design strategies, qualities and concepts and includes a number of important insights from designers, researchers and organisations.
  4. We made a report in which we explained three inspiration projects with circular building principles: a boarding school, a single-family house and an office building.


  1. Despite all the efforts to improve the circular potential with technical solutions, we currently see that very little material remains in the cycle, due to factors beyond the architect's control.
  2. Many technical standards are very detailed and specific, making the reuse of second-hand building materials difficult. But designers with an eye for opportunities can, with the necessary creativity, keep some materials in the cycle.
  3. Instruments that effectively support building owners and designers to realise the circular potential of their projects and to conduct a dialogue about this are warmly welcomed by them.
  4. Circular building is here to stay. It is a more structural change than the energy (r)evolution of previous years: not only the technical elaboration of buildings is changing, but also the form of collaboration, with new roles and business models.
298 participants in information sessions
60 participants Atelier Circulair
3.170 pockets distributed
3.200 readers reached by trade press


As the demand from our target group for information on both the basic principles and the new developments in circular construction remains high, we have decided to organise another learning network in 2021.

We will also continue to focus on information sharing through articles and information sessions on circular building.