Project

Circular Construction Lab

Goal: - Analyze and understand the current material stocks and flows in the built environment;
- Maximise the amount of re-used, recycled and composted materials in construction;
- Develop a new generation of circular materials from non-virgin and regenerative, cultivated resources;
- Promote toxin-free, pure-type materials and connections;
- Design and build for disassembly, understanding the city as a material depot for future construction;
- Develop indicators and tools for the management of the anthropogenic urban mine.

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Project log

Felix Heisel
added a research item
This dataset has been compiled by the Circular Construction Lab at Cornell University as a point of departure for material and component circularity calculations using the Rhinoceros3D and Grasshopper plugin RhinoCircular. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are the primary reference in the published dataset, and all referenced EPDs are included in the bibliography of this document. The geographic boundaries of the provided dataset are set within North America and its scope aims to represent the industry's status quo of material pathways. Version 1.0 is published on 17 January, 2023. Data points include Name, Density [kg/m3], Fraction of Recycled Materials in Production [%], Fraction of Renewable Materials in Production [%] Production Efficiency [%], Fraction of Materials for Recycling at End-of-Use [%], Fraction of Materials for Energy Recovery at End-of-Use [%] Fraction of Materials for Composting at End-of-Use [%], End-of-Use Recycling Efficiency [%].
Felix Heisel
added a research item
This paper introduces ScanR (Scan for Reuse), a composite method pairing quantitative and qualitative salvage and deconstruction surveying (S&D survey) with LiDAR and photogrammetry scanning in an effort to empower local municipalities and stakeholders in cataloging building materials prior to removal from site (in the case of either demolition or deconstruction), and enabling data collection and the generation of material databases to link local supply with demand – all in support of a shift from linear to circular economic models in construction. The speed of capturing large spaces through 3D scans and the ability to export such models into CAD software allows for a rapid assessment of surface and floor areas to calculate finishing material quantities and other material content, but lacks metadata such as quality and potential hazards that are necessary for a potential deconstruction contractor. Furthermore, information on spaces inaccessible to scanning, such as wall cavities, are necessary to comprehensively assess a building’s reuse potential. In supplementing scans with S&D surveys using accessible tools and software, these factors can be noted and referenced in relation to the space and 3d model, providing critical information to inform the harvest of materials and planning of the materials’ next use cycles. In testing this method on a building slated for deconstruction, this paper demonstrates the advantages of each method of data collection and how one can be leveraged to support the other to further catalyze local efforts to divert material from waste streams.
Felix Heisel
added 2 research items
This paper outlines and discusses a number of pedagogical strategies developed for a recent First Year Introductory Design Studio at Cornell University's Department of Architecture. The global climate and resource crises are calling for paradigm shifts in the way we design, build, and manage our physical environment. Importantly, those paradigm shifts also fundamentally challenge the way we teach architecture. The studio aimed to introduce students to the issues, elements, processes and interdependencies of both sustainability (environment, climate, politics) and architectural design (geometry, materiality, form, structure). A total of five assignments and their results are presented in this paper, historically contextualized, and pedagogically analyzed. Each of the exercises incrementally introduced new architectural concepts related to environment, body, material, culture, landscape, spatial tectonics, and representation. As the semester progressed, project narratives were layered, expanding a student's understanding of architecture as a complex and playful set of abstracted, reciprocal-geometric, proportional, formal, performative, constructed and natural-relationships.
The construction industry requires a complete paradigm shift in the way we design, build, and manage our built environment: a shift from linear resource consumption to circular material usage. This paper describes the integration of the theory of circular construction into the curriculum of a first-year Bachelor of Architecture design studio at the Department of Architecture of Cornell University, as well as the teaching methodology developed to facilitate this paradigm shift. At the heart of the development of the syllabus is our conviction that circular design and construction requires detailed material knowledge at the earliest stage of the educational process, so that it can become an almost instinctive aspect of design consideration throughout the students' education, and one that might be further developed through electives and more advanced studios. Consequently, over the course of the semester, each student was assigned two design parameters involving (1) a raw material and (2) a reversible joint typology. The significant steps of the process are illustrated through examples of student work from the Spring 2020 design studio.
Felix Heisel
added a research item
Wie können wir zukünftige Bauaufgaben sozial, ökonomisch und ökologisch bewältigen, um unserer gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung gerecht zu werden? Dieser wichtigen Frage widmet sich dieser Leitfaden. Dem linearen Wirtschaftsmodell und damit der Vernichtung von Ressourcen steht die Idee geschlossener Stoffkreisläufe, neuartig konzipierter Konstruktionen und (Rück-) Bautechnologien sowie innovativer, kreislauforientierter Geschäftsmodelle entgegen. Die gebaute Umwelt muss als Materiallager verstanden und für die einfache Entnahme von Baumaterialien geplant werden. Internationale Experten beleuchten aus ganz unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln und anhand zukunftsweisender Projektbeispiele, wie den Herausforderungen einer Kreislaufwirtschaft mit ganz neuen methodischen Ansätzen begegnet werden kann. Eine Sammlung ausgewählter Materialbeispiele zeigt die besondere Ästhetik und Wertigkeit von wiederverwendeten und -verwerteten Baustoffen und Bauteilen. Der Einstieg in eine vollständige Kreislaufwirtschaft muss zum zentralen und gemeinsamen Ziel unserer Gesellschaft werden. Dieses Buch zeigt mögliche Wege zu einer kreislaufgerechten Bauwirtschaft auf.
Felix Heisel
added 4 research items
In 1980, a bet between two economists, Doomster ecologist Paul R. Ehrlich and Boomster economist Julian L. Simon, predicted two distinct models of the future of the planet. Through the anecdote of this bet—and its longer lasting consequences—Heisel unpacks the economics that underlie the world’s material economies. As materials are depleted or become costlier to mine, values increase, and open up potentials for recycling economies. For these relatively new markets to prosper, however, “raw” materials in the form of postconsumer goods must be available, and the consequence of that is the rethinking of the fabrication of the original product, whether it be a shoe or a building. After a detailed foray into the global economics of the waste industry, Heisel describes his own experiment (along with Werner Sobek and Dirk E. Hebel) to build a 100% recyclable house on the Empa campus in Switzerland, and the complexities of innovating the prevailing linear material logic of construction.
Heisel, O’Donnell, and Pranger explore built architectural examples of zero-waste and circular design. As an expansion to the Waste of Space chapter, they investigate real applications of circular design practice throughout the world. The text uncovers a series of techniques, varying in scale, applied to architectural design, which include detailed material specification, building reuse, planned deconstruction, and regional master planning, among others. Through a survey of current and contemporary projects, it is found that the trend of circular design is still a fairly new concept in the world of architecture, but is of growing importance. This chapter explores built architectural examples of zero-waste and circular design. It investigates real applications of circular design practice throughout the world. The text uncovers a series of techniques, varying in scale, applied to architectural design, which include detailed material specification, building reuse, planned deconstruction, and regional master planning, among others. Through a survey of current and contemporary projects, it is found that the trend of circular design is still a fairly new concept in the world of architecture, but is of growing importance. A new kind of deconstruction is happening in architecture, a literal deconstruction in which a large proportion of the materials used are designed to be demountable and reused in the future. The construction of cities with the intention of deconstruction in the form of material depots or banks (when additionally understood as financial resource investment) has hardly begun. Old systems need to be rethought and retooled.
Felix Heisel
added 12 research items
The growing scarcity of resources calls for a paradigm shift from linear material consumption to circular economy – especially in the construction industry. This shift involves a complete rethinking of design principles, materials, construction technics and technologies, as well as the introduction of new business models evolving from these reconfigurations within the field. This paper will show on-going research on these themes with a focus on direct material re-use and recycling through the discussion of a prototypology –the recently concluded Mehr.WERT.Pavillon (MWP) at the BUGA 2019 in Heilbronn. The research specifically addresses a reversible, mono-material structure that is made from re-used structural steel and recycled glass. The concept of cycles therefor is significant: Utilized materials are not consumed and disposed of; instead, they are borrowed from their material cycle for a certain period of time and later returned there at equal value and utility. Sourced from recycled materials, the prototypology is a built example of urban mining; designed for disassembly at the end of its service time, it also represents a material bank for future projects – while proofing the claim, that it is possible already today to build within a circular system.
MycoTree is a spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components. Its geometry was designed using 3D graphic statics, utilizing compression-only form to enable the weak material to perform structurally. Built from only mycelium and bamboo, the structure represents a provocative vision of how one may move beyond the mining of our construction materials from the earth’s crust to their cultivation and urban growth; how achieving stability through geometry rather than through material strength opens up possibilities to use weaker materials structurally and safely; and ultimately, how regenerative resources in combination with informed structural design have the potential to propose an alternative to established building materials for a more sustainable construction industry.
NEXT GENERATION BUILDING MATERIALS The 21st century faces a radical change in how we produce construction materials – a shift towards cultivating, breeding, raising, farming, or growing future resources. This book presents innovative industrialized production methods for cultivated building materials, like cement grown by bacteria, bricks made of mushroom mycelium, or bamboo fibers as reinforcement for concrete. Spanning from scientific research to product development and architectural application, this book builds a bridge between the academic and the professional world of architecture. The book describes the CHALLENGES, STRATEGIES, AND GOALS in the first part, followed by a second part on BAMBOO, A CULTIVATED BUILDING MATERIAL and a number of examples in the third part which form the bridge FROM CULTIVATED MATERIALS TO BUILDING PRODUCTS.
Felix Heisel
added a project goal
- Analyze and understand the current material stocks and flows in the built environment;
- Maximise the amount of re-used, recycled and composted materials in construction;
- Develop a new generation of circular materials from non-virgin and regenerative, cultivated resources;
- Promote toxin-free, pure-type materials and connections;
- Design and build for disassembly, understanding the city as a material depot for future construction;
- Develop indicators and tools for the management of the anthropogenic urban mine.