Circularity in the built environment


About this course

This course introduces first of all circularity as the problem of planetary (resource) management, with a central role for rates and planetary boundaries. Energy, materials, waste and emissions are studied separately and in cohesion. Then we explore the idea of a circular economy, highlighting 21st century attempts to (re)define boundaries, "progress" and "costs" and consider fair distribution. We will study and exercise various circularity and sustainability assessments. After this broad introduction we move on to the built environment and zoom in from large to small. What does circularity mean for planetary and urban spatial planning? How to design circular buildings on conceptual and technical level? How to redesign the numerous existing buildings that were not designed with these considerations? What is a circular product or component? And how to select materials? What should we know about their impacts, their availability, their mining and their recycling? After exploring these issues, you are asked to define 3 personal research questions in the domains of technology, economy and humanities.

Course aim

Circularity is often narrowed down to reuse and recycling, but on a systemic level it is about staying within planetary boundaries. This concerns energy, materials, waste ánd emissions: the whole picture. We start our problem analysis at planetary level, and from there we zoom in to global economy, spatial planning, buildings, elements and components, materials, The lectures of this course will give you a theoretical introduction in key concepts while the assignments and feedback sessions address application. Finally, the course invites and allows participation in the follow-upCircularity Research a/o Design Project (7XC2M0).

Circularity in the built environment 7XC1M0 and Circularity research a/o design project (7XC2M0) are part of the TU/e master certificate 'circular design in the built environment'. Please check this website for more information:

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course,

  1. You have a critical understanding of the systemic problems of circularity, and how the need for ecological resource management relates not just to design and technology, but also to economic models, habits and arrangements; growth and consumption; population; mindset and behavior.
  2. You have a critical understanding of design and technology assessments (e.g. Life Cycle Analysis, Circularity Indicators,Embodied Land assessments) and what they do (and do not) measure; you can use these to evaluate design proposals and decisions.
  3. You have a critical understanding of how design and technology on the levels of spatial planning, building, product and material can (and cannot) contribute to solving the problems; you can use this knowledge to make effective circular design proposals.
  4. You can synthesize the lessons learned in a conclusion and then develop your own meaningful follow-up research questions, from various disciplinary angles.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of TU Eindhoven.


  • Start date

    2 September 2024

    • Ends
      27 October 2024
    • Term *
      Block GS1
    • Location
    • Instruction language
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