In a nutshell

CIRC-ARCH aims to connect circular construction strategies to architectural education by establishing a novel integration of teaching methods based on an availability-based design methodology implemented in practical design & build workshops and design studios. The project has three phases, each dedicated to one aspect of circular construction: reuse of reclaimed components, harvesting vacant buildings as material stocks and reuse of vacant buildings, and will involve basic research, shared or individual design studios, and a series of shared design & build workshops. The expected results include a blueprint for the integration of circular construction thinking in design & build workshops and design studios, comprehensive knowledge of the variety of circular design approaches and practices in Europe, practical knowledge through full-scale demonstrators, and detailed documentation of educational formats and prototypes.


Architects are critical agents in the necessary shift for a sustainable construction sector as they develop ideas, shaping buildings and our infrastructure, essentially choosing building materials and moderating building processes. While researchers and practitioners have taken on the issue and explore alternatives based on the circular use of materials, construction parts or buildings, the education of architects is still largely disconnected from the reflection of new design strategies for a more sustainable built environment. The actual design practice in architectural education needs to be connected to the state-of-the-art knowledge about sustainable design; students and teachers need to establish and train resource (availability) based design as a new paradigm in our building culture. And there needs to be a broader understanding of what sustainability and circularity mean and what they can bring to the very different within the European context. Embedding circular thinking and making actual objects in the very context of places are powerful elements of architectural education that need to be tools in future-proof architecture curricula.


There are three main objectives:

1 to connect existing knowledge and strategies of circular construction to the largely unaltered design practice and, additionally, extend the studio to a design & build practice in education. Within the larger European context, the project shall extend the notion of circular construction reflecting the very different local contexts.

2 to establish a novel integration of teaching methods with

  1. once-a-year full-scale design and build workshops at a particular place with mixed teams of all partnering universities,

  2. international online seminars on circular design with mixed-teams of the partnering universities and

  3. hybrid formats of design and construction exercises using digital and physical models as well as digital team communication.

3 to set up and demonstrate a complete methodology of integrated theory and practice courses which, altogether, shall serve as a blueprint for direct implementation in a near-future curriculum of architectural education.


The project has three phases, each lasting about one year. Each phase is dedicated to one aspect of circular construction:

  1. reuse of reclaimed components,

  2. harvesting vacant buildings as material stocks

  3. reuse of existing structures.

The partner universities are collectively conducting basic research on how state-of-the-art knowledge on these aspects can be implemented in architectural design education and will embed the aspects in shared or individual courses, design studios and in a central, collectively run, design & build workshop. Throughout these phases, experts and stakeholders, but also local communities, will be involved in the reflection. There will be exhibitions, colloquia, and a conference where the outcomes will be communicated and feedback will be incorporated.


The following results are expected:

  • blueprint for the integration of making studios and design studios for circular construction in holistic architectural education
  • knowledge of the broad spectrum of problems and practices in circular design across Europe
  • accumulated yearly: practical knowledge of possible applications through full-scale demonstrators resulting from the design-and-build workshops
  • detailed documentation of educational formats and constructional prototypes