2022-02-28 17:36:04

Super Circular Estate

The Danish city of Kerkrade has a dwindling population, which currently stands at 45,000, due to ageing and young people moving to large cities. The trend is expected to continue in the next three decades. For this reason, high-rise apartment buildings, mainly built in the 1960s to address housing shortage, no longer satisfy inhabitants’ needs and are to be demolished and reconstructed. However, traditional construction and demolition methods will lay waste to the material of these buildings, adding to the construction and demolition waste of the Netherlands, which already accounts for 41.6% of the country’s total waste production. Besides, the production of new material will mean further consumption of natural resources.

This has prompted the city to look for circular solutions in (de)construction. The city started with three pilot houses built with material harvested from the demolition of a 10-storey social housing. During the process, nine deconstruction and reuse techniques have been tested. Two of them prove to be financially feasible and ready for direct application in construction; two others show great potentials for upscaling. These include the production of “green concrete”. As it is made of reused aggregates, it uses 95%-98% less cement. Another example is the reversible concrete blocks, which will be used in the construction of another 16 houses in the same neighbourhood. The blocks are easily disassembled so that they can be reused and recycled at lower cost when these new buildings reach the end of their life.

In addition to material circularity, the city also wishes to promote “social circularity” – to enhance liveability, social cohesion, and continuity in the new neighbourhood by encouraging former tenants of the high-rise social housing to return. The neighbourhood will include a social services centre aimed at strengthening social cohesion, as well as new collaborative economy services/facilities to reduce the need for vehicles, tools, spaces, etc.

To upscale the initiative, a regional circular building hub has been initiated to collect and share knowledge and stimulate spin-off projects. In addition, a platform for matching supply and demand in circular building projects is under development.

The initiative contributes to the achievement of SDGs 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible production and consumption), 13 (climate action).