Arup Designs Prototype Building Based on Circular Economy Principles
Posted. 26th April 2017
In a prototype developed for the 2016 London Design Festival, Arup Associates designed The Circular Building, one of the first buildings in the UK built to satisfy Circular Economy principles, in which "all components need to be implemented and utilized to their full potential and to the duration of their life cycle, while creating a comfortable and aesthetic environment for the user."
In order to achieve these goals, designers and engineers worked together to refine the application of prefabricated construction techniques, producing details that utilize finely tuned engineering rather than mechanical fixings. Through this methodology, the team was able to create a low-waste, self-supporting, and demountable structurally integrated panel (SIPs) wall system (which used cladding provided by Accoya) with reusable clamp connections between the wall and recycled steel frame elements, as well as sustainably sourced, heat treated timber for the cladding and decking.
The interior volume of the building is subtly divided into three zones, reflecting how the circular economy could shape living, working, and public environments, as described by Arup in a press release:
"The living zone was cocooned in an acoustic wall system, made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, a material that can be reformed again and again. The work station integrated Arup's 'It's all about the Desk' project elements. This is a system which uses sensors to monitor the internal environment, relaying data in a cloud-hosted system linking together the operable skylights, blinds and lighting system, creating an optimized environment."
Through the design process, extensive materials research and testing was required to ensure circularity. This information thus became a Materials Data Base and exhibition catalog, "collating for the first time information on the production, material substance, and next use of each asset," tracked via QR code.
The entire project was created in an eight-week design stage and build time of two weeks on a constrained site in central London.
"The detailing moved away from the traditional glass, wood or steel junctions to ensure efficient assembly, in a 'flat-pack' style. Each panel was comprised of a series of pieces that had been designed to fit in a specific location. These pieces were rationalized through various computational iterations to make them as repetitive as possible. Each panel was given an individual QR code before being taken to site."
Learn more about the project here