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My experience of the Circular Building

Emily Fanning 06 Oct 2016

Before going into my third year at university, I spent time learning about what BAM’s Design and Sustainability divisions do. I was lucky that my visit coincided with London Design Week, where BAM was involved with the Circular Building exhibition – a temporary structure that aims to show visitors how to adopt a more circular approach to how they live and work.

The ciruclar building outside the Building Centre in London

I learnt about circular economy principles: moving from a linear ‘take, make, dispose’ model towards a circular model that uses sustainably sourced materials and designs out waste. The Circular Building was created by Arup, the Built Environment Trust, Frener & Reifer and BAM to showcase new, state-of-the-art products inspired by the circular economy.

During the construction phase, I saw how the exterior cassette made from sequoia was secured with screws rather than nails so that the fixings and wood could be dismantled and reused.

The building also features a detachable plant wall, which demonstrates the ‘products as a service’ principle. The manufacturer of the wall – Plant Designs – tends to the wall over a prolonged period, visiting each week to water and replace the flowers. This extended ownership of a product encourages manufacturers to improve the quality, durability and flexibility of the products they design.

The plant wall on display in the building

Inside the Circular Building, the interiors and furnishings have been chosen with sustainability in mind.  Autex is an acoustic fabric that provides the wall structure and finish. It’s made from recycled bottles and is detachable for versatility.

Desso carpet tiles have been laid loose for easy reuse and the Orangebox task chair has interchangeable components so that it can be easily refurbished or upgraded.

Carpet tiles and task chair designed with circular economy principles

During my visit, Ken Webster, Head of Innovation at the Ellen McArthur Foundation and author of ‘The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows’ gave a talk on how money fits into the circular economy. It helped me to understand how the circular economy is linked to global economics, which I found fascinating.

My week at BAM was a real eye opener – I am much more aware of the concept of designing for reuse in both structures and products, which is a logical progression from recycling. It has really inspired me!


Emily Fanning was a work experience student at BAM.



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