The London Design Festival, taking place from 17th-25th September 2016, is an annual event held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world; and act as a gateway to the international creative community. Participating in this significant event, Arup is delighted to be collaborating with Frener & Reifer, BAM and The Built Environment Trust.

Arup together with its partners is investigating how the circular economy can benefit the industry and the built environment, reflecting on the commercial, social and environmental opportunities of employing circular principles.

The Circular Building is a prototype. Designed and delivered by a multi-disciplinary, architectural and engineering team, from Arup Associates and Arup in collaboration with Frener & Reifer and BAM, and support from The Built Environment Trust, a number of partners have contributed to test circular economy principles in the construction industry and its supply chain. The Circular Building tests the maturity of circular economy thinking in the supply chain and examines what it means for building design. Can we design a building where, at the end of its life, all its components and materials can be re-used, re-manufactured or re-cycled? Asking this question profoundly alters design and construction priorities. Supplier engagement is critical, with both designers and suppliers challenged to think differently about materials and construction processes.

A challenge has been set to material suppliers, as part of the supply chain, to respond to the demands for circular products. More widely how components are assembled and the inherent value that we create over the life of the building is also being questioned.

“The circular economy provides an opportunity for all of us to rethink how we can create a future that values natural capital, improves humanity and leave a better world for future generations. It challenges us to rethink how we live, own, design and build our communities, towns and cities. As designers, we need to explore this new future and show the possibilities of how to create a world that does not inhibit, yet improves quality of life for people while caring for the planet. The circular building is a small first step into this future”, added Simon Anson, Project Architect, Arup Associates.

Waste is material without information; at the end of a building’s life, materials cannot easily be re-used as key information, such as their chemical composition or strength, is not available. A Materials Database aims to solve this problem. Each material in The Circular Building comes with its own QR code containing the information required to allow re-use.

The Materials Database required input from the manufacturers as well as Arup’s designers and material experts. This has been created using a cloud-based platform from which data has been fed to both The Circular Building website and the BIM model. Both the website and the BIM model can be viewed via QR codes displayed inside The Circular Building.

Circularity can only be achieved with true collaboration and with designing and constructing the Circular Building, this prototype has only been possible with Frener & Reifer’s engagement and with the support of the many manufacturers who are also committed to testing the principles that underpin the circular economy.


Michael Reifer, Frener & Reifer, said “ The creation of architecture is a sociocultural task that influences our future. In the circular economy, the credo "less is more" is not enough in terms of how we utilise our natural resources to safeguard the future of our planet, because “less” is still too much. “Zero is even more”, to live up to this credo, this is the challenge we are confronting”.

All the partners believe the circular economy can enable the industry to tackle the complex nature of the built environment through multidisciplinary working, and this can drive a shift towards more sustainable forms of value creation and economic growth.


Arup is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s knowledge partner for the built environment; sharing knowledge and collaborating with CE100 partners to accelerate the shift to a circular economy. Ken Webster (Head of Innovation, Ellen MacArthur Foundation) will be speaking at the conference on Wednesday 21st September.

The Circular Building
19th September – 7th October 2016

'Circular Living'  8 – 28 September 2016

Location of the Circular Building and exhibition
The Building Centre
26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT
Friday – Saturday 10am – 4pm
Exhibition and installation both free to visit

 The Circular Economy in the Built Environment paper will be available on published on Monday 19th September. The paper can be accessed through the following link: