Renewable Architecture - the Circular Building as a Material Bank and Repository of Knowledge

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Type and Duration

API-Förderprojekt, November 2019 until October 2022


Institute of Architecture and Planning

Main Research

Sustainable Planning and Construction

Field of Research

Sustainable Urban Design


The construction industry is the main cause of global pollution, resource depletion, and consumption of energy from nonrenewable sources. The complete reincorporation of building materials into closed material cycles (through reuse, recycling, or decay and rotting), the changeover from linear consumption to the circular use of resources is central to the development of sustainable solutions for our environment, the construction industry, and architecture. Thus the project places the systematic analysis and redesign of the building stock as a repository for material and cultural resources at the very core of the investigation and architectural design by focusing on two central aspects.

1) Material Bank - the Building as a Material Resource
Through the concept of borrowing resources for the duration of a certain use and form (instead of expending those resources permanently), dismantling is no longer the destruction of resources but the recovery of assets in the form of material and immaterial values. Proceeding from a discourse of values and the material conditions of construction, the formation of an architecture according to the constructional and artistic rules of circular building and their impact on the construction industry and the financial sector will be examined.

2) Repository of Knowledge - the Building as an Immaterial Resource
In architecture, recycling cannot be reduced solely to molecules, because both material and immaterial values are embodied within construction waste. When designing, reuse entails working and building with the past and its meaning for today. In this regard, even contemporary building projects reveal their deficits: a lack of knowledge in the classification and allocation of found objects, history, narratives, and meaning in and for architecture.

The accompanying doctoral dissertation aims to understand these mechanisms at a broad level and to translate them into a tool for today's makers of architecture.


  • Stockhammer, D., & Furrer, B. (2022). Einfälle statt Abfälle. Phänomene der Wieder- und Weiterverwendung im alpinen Bauen. k a, Kunst und Architektur in der Schweiz, 2022(1).