Circular Strategies

Petra Gruber
Architecture, Building Construction
2024S, scientific seminar (SEW), 3.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S05049


“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall

The urgent need for a new mindset within the building culture drives the core the Circular Strategies course. As our material world accounts for a substantial portion of global greenhouse gas emissions, with nearly half attributed to building construction, the imperative for change becomes clear. Forecasts predict a doubling of material extraction and flow by 2060, amplifying the urgency to reimagine architectures that seamlessly integrate into circular approaches.

Throughout the course, we will delve into the concepts of circularity, such as reuse, adaptation, strategies for post-disaster territories, alongside discussions on biomaterials, deconstruction, waste, and principles of designing for disassembly with a systemic approach essential for crafting a sustainable future. This course will navigate through various scales, from materials and buildings to holistic cityscapes and regional systems.

Beyond theoretical knowledge, this course offers a platform for students to actively confront their critical thinking and tackle the environmental and human impacts associated with material management in the built environment.

This task serves as a preparatory endeavor aligned with the thematic focus of the upcoming symposium on circular strategies. Activities include lectures, guest lectures, video presentations, discussions, visits, basic research activities, studio work, reviews, and presentations.

The course setup aims to foster critical thinking, research skills, and creativity among students while encouraging the exploration of the intersection of architecture, design, and circularity within a specific thematic context.

The course is open to students from different disciplines in architecture, design, and the arts. Interdisciplinary collaboration in small groups is welcome.

Examination Modalities

The assessment of the course is 40% reading response and class activity, and 60% design project. Written summaries are delivered individually for research themes. Design concepts are developed in small groups and visualized in presentations and models. The final design project is jointly presented including all relevant steps of the design process, application scenario, models, and prototypes. The specific output is agreed on in reviews. Final presentation is held in class.


The course will be co-taught by Petra Gruber and Camille Breuil.
Due to the size of the room, the course is limited to a maximum of 20 students. 


McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart. Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. North point press, 2010.
Heisel, Felix and Hebel, Dirk E.. Building Better - Less - Different: Circular Construction and Circular Economy: Fundamentals, Case Studies, Strategies, Berlin, Boston: Birkhäuser, 2022.
Klanten, Robert, Rosie Flanagan, and Andrea Servert, eds. Building for Change: The Architecture of Creative Reuse. Die Gestalten Verlag GmbH & Company KG, 2022.
Stricker, Eva, et al. Reuse in construction: a compendium of circular architecture. Park Books, 2022.
Wong, Liliane. Adaptive Reuse in Architecture: A Typological Index. Birkhäuser, 2023.  

Key Words

circularity, cradle-to-cradle, design for disassembly, dismantle, systems, loops, adaptive, repair, recycle, repurpose, upcycle, reconstruction


12 March 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
19 March 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
09 April 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
16 April 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
23 April 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
30 April 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
07 May 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
14 May 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
28 May 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
04 June 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6
11 June 2024, 09:00–10:30 Seminar Room 6

Course Enrolment

From 19 December 2023, 11:30 to 31 March 2024, 17:30
Via online registration

Architecture (Master): Expertise: Architectural Science: Building Construction 443/002.01

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible