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A circular building that inspires

Jesse Putzel Jesse Putzel 11 Dec 2017

On a recent trip to the Netherlands, we had the opportunity to meet with colleagues from across the BAM Group to learn about and share BAMs experience of building with circular economy principles. The day included a workshop facilitated by the Carbon Trust as part of a European Project (R2π) which aims to scale the take-up of business models which enable a more resource efficient, circular economy. The setting was one of our flagship circular projects.

As you arrive at Amsterdam Zuid station, ABN AMRO’s Circl building is visible straight away. The relatively unassuming exterior (a black glazed box) hides a very interesting and quite unique building behind it. The Circl has been built (by BAM) with circular economy principles at its heart. The focus is on a demountable construction, which makes maximum use of reused materials and products, local and sustainable new materials and creating a space that inspires. And it certainly does.

Circl is a new meeting and public space, build alongside ABN AMRO’s head offices in Amsterdam. The bank wanted to showcase their commitment to sustainability and to becoming fully ‘circular’ with this new pavilion, and also create a place for the community (for business and for fun). The space is set up for meetings but also public space, like the accessible roof garden and surrounding public square. ABN Amro are committed to ensuring the building acts as a learning and education tool.

As soon as you step into the new meeting and public space it’s obvious ABN AMRO wanted to make a statement – with a mixture of planting, timber elements, steel and reused materials (some obvious like the reception desk, some not so obvious like the accoustic panel insulation made of old jeans). This all makes for a space that feels unique and that makes you feel good when you’re in it.

The recycled jean acoustic paneling is set throughout the building and was developed by a supplier as part of the project. The whole project team (and back office colleagues) were asked to donate old jeans. The product is now in wider production.

The reception desks dotted around the Circl are made of old ‘trophies’/plaques, used by ABN AMRO to mark new deals made with companies.

When BAM was engaged to be involved in the project, the design had not considered ‘circular’ principles. However, the bank subsequently made circular economy a core part of its forward strategy and therefore BAM saw an opportunity to propose a different approach and provide significant added value to the client. To help the bank in their aspiration of becoming ‘fully circular’ as an organisation, and working with the existing architect, we proposed a solution for a ‘remountable’ pavilion. The intention is that the building can (if required) be erected in one spot and later dismantled and rebuilt somewhere else.

Glazing from an old office building was sourced by our specialist supply chain partner and ‘urban miner’, New Horizons, to create internal meeting spaces.

To deliver the project, the approach had to be different to a traditional project. Since the start, there has been a collaborative ‘one team’ approach and suppliers have been brought in during the design stages to co-create. This has been essential in setting up agreements for reuse, buy back etc. and in determining potential residual values.

Examples like Circl, show that it is possible to think differently about the way we build and the way we think about buildings over their lifecycle. The core principles are not new - design for deconstruction, reuse of products and materials etc., however the way they have been brought together is new and especially as there is a real focus on the future (what will these materials be worth and how do we value them). 


Jesse Putzel is Head of Sustainability at BAM

If you would like to talk to us about circular economy opportunities, contact us



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