Building in a Circular Economy
Architect’s and structural designers’ efforts to reduce environmental impacts traditionally consist in developing systems that minimize material quantities or that use low-impact materials. A third strategy currently (re-)emerges: the reuse of building and structural components over multiple service lives and in new layouts. Still in its infancy, this circular economy strategy disrupts the design practice in many ways: rather than manufacturing components after the design of a system, the system is synthesized from a given stock of reclaimed components; versatility, reversibility, and transformability become hard requirements for all load-bearing systems and components; costs, performance, and environmental assessments span multiple service life cycles. There is consequently a sudden lack of expertise, design tools, technological solutions, and relevant metrics. This course contextualizes the effects of the circular industrial economy upon the architectural and structural design practice, reviews recent and future developments for the field, and shows the application of a novel parametric design tool to design structures from reclaimed elements.