Circularity challenges and solutions in design projects: An action research approach

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    Design professionals need to fundamentally rethink their design practices in light of a transition to a circular built environment. Traditional design approaches result in static buildings that poorly adapt to changing user needs and leave conventional demolition as the only viable end-of-life option, which results in significant amounts of waste. A 'circular' model of production is currently worldwide promoted as an alternative, but little is known about how circularity thinking may be implemented in design projects. This research therefore aims to explore how circularity challenges can be better understood while attempting to solve them in an actual project. An action research approach was adopted to study a pioneering renovation of a primary school building in the Netherlands. Circularity challenges were observed during 17 design meetings with different design disciplines and client representatives over a six-month period. A Circular Project Model was consequently developed to provide an
    overview of linear and circular material flows. The use of this model during a workshop with 22 designers showed that the practitioners could identify and exemplify key circularity challenges in design, such as building code compliance,
    complexity of buildings and ease of demolition. It also helped them in finding solutions for some of the challenges, including assessing reuse potentials of materials in existing buildings, designing with future disassembly and reuse in mind and promoting commitment among clients and other stakeholders. This action research study hence offers new opportunities for researchers and practitioners to understand and solve circularity challenges in design projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2019
    Event35th Annual ARCOM Conference 2019: Productivity, Performance and Quality Conundrum - Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom
    Duration: 2 Sept 20194 Sept 2019
    Conference number: 35


    Conference35th Annual ARCOM Conference 2019
    Abbreviated titleARCOM 2019
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • action research
    • circular economy
    • design management
    • renovation


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