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Enabling reversible building design

BAMB’s mission is to enable the shift to a circular building sector. For effective use of building materials and to facilitate recovery and reuse of components, products or materials in buildings, buildings need to be easily reversible. 
In BAMB, a Design Protocol for dynamic & circular building will be developed in order to enable different stakeholders in the construction value chain to implement Reversible Design strategies and approaches in construction and refurbishing activities. The Design Protocol for dynamic & circular buildings will inform designers and decision makers about the transformation capacity and reuse potential of the design and the impacts of design solutions during the conceptual design phase. It aims to support the design of reversible buildings – and more specifically offices, apartments and public (socio/cultural) buildings with high transformation and reuse potential. The Design protocol will integrate the main criteria for the design of transformable buildings with reusable components into building transformation models and a set of design principles and design indicators pointing out the relevant design aspects and adequate design decisions for each design phase.


Project BAMB – Buildings As Material Banks funded by H2020-EU.3.5.4 programme: Enabling the transition towards a green economy and society through eco-innovation



Entirely built by young trainees, the BRIC building is a sustainable, scalable and reversible construction developed by the interdisciplinary Brussels training centre, efp during three consecutive academic years, starting in autumn 2017. The BRIC is being assembled and disassembled on yearly basis. Each transformation is accompanied by a change in function: from an office (2018) to a shop (2019) and eventually an acoustic laboratory (2020) for training efp students.    

Key Takeaways

The first construction and disassembly of BRIC 1 proved the convenience and feasibility of integrating circular building techniques. The integration of the transformation phase into the design process provided a better forecast of the ability to recover materials and maintain their value.    

"The BRIC is a unique project that actively involves young people: the future construction professionals and entrepreneurs. It is an ongoing interdisciplinary laboratory of knowledge where students and experienced professionals exchange ideas and co-create the project all along its development. An open-minded approach allowed the re-assessment and redefinition of traditional stakeholder roles in the conception, construction, operation, deconstruction and re-assembly phases.

BRIC is testing a set of constructive elements in a circular configuration."

Project Achievements

Conceived as a material bank, BRIC tested the extension of the lifespan of materials. The team analysed the capacity of each constructive element to be reused several times with almost no waste production. The first technical results proved that both circularity and energy efficiency objectives can be successfully met within the same project. For example, the BlowerDoor test, which measures the airtightness of the building, generated an excellent result (v50=1,6m³/h/m²).    

Project Stakeholders

The project was developed by efp training centre. By the end of 2018, more than 180 students had participated in the construction and disassembly of the first BRIC module. Local actors such as architects, contractors, manufacturers, resellers had participated to the development of the project.     

Project Outputs

"1. All the successive buildings (BRIC 1, BRIC 2) are designed to use the same materials. The project developer and the architects maximized the reuse potential of materials used for BRIC1 (approx. 90% of reused materials);
2. The flexible connections allowed to recover  and re-use materials after the end of the project;
3. Circularity has been addressed at various levels: building, spatial, system, element and material level: 
o    functional independence (the façade could be removed without touching the structure);
o    reduction of the connections between elements (the façade used a modular element that connected it in a very simple way);
o    connections (traditional wooden connections) and the use of intermediaries – screws – allow fast disassembly without damage.  "    

Project Replicability

During its transformations, the project was testing the capacity of the construction to evolve in size and functionality. The ability of the project to be transformed and adapted to new functional needs makes BRIC a valuable scalable project. Making use of its reversible characteristics, such as the removable foundation, the building can be implemented in different places with minimal ecological footprint and ease of assembly to accommodate different functions.

Project Scalability

The BRIC concept is a perfect candidate for temporary occupation projects, such as seasonal shelters, which can meet the needs of niche market segments not necessarily covered by current construction industry offers.  

Three main challenges?

 "1. Difficulties in convincing stakeholders with no circular background to reflect within a different economic model.
2. Difficulties in aligning all the stakeholders around a common goal that is different than their organisational one.
3. Difficulties in convincing about the interest to build a project for the future, with emphasis on the long-term benefits."    


Three main successes?

"1.  BRIC can be considered a true laboratory of knowledge. The impact of the project and the opportunity to disseminate knowledge are very high. After the
training, students are back on the work site and can apply directly the circular construction principles. 
2. The CBA (Circular Building Assessement) tool developed by BRE within the BAMB project  concluded that the cumulative impact of 2 transformations over a 60-year achieved approximately 41,770 kg CO2eq saving (50%)  by adopting Circular Design instead of Non-Circular.
3. The disassembly of BRIC 1 was even more successful than anticipated in the CBA hypothesis. Only 3,5 m³ of waste were generated. More materials could be reused than expected."  


Other info

The project is developed by the Brussels Environment and efp team, within the framework of the "Building as Material banks" BAMB project. EFP is a training centre based in Brussels. All images and materials are copyright protected and are the property of EFP, map architecture for BRIC and Karbon Architecture for BRIC2.


Additional Tags:

Construction and demolition waste management, Design for disassembly, reuse and easy to recycle, Adaptability, flexibility and refurbishment of buildings and neighbourhoods, Sharing and multi-use of spaces, Use of reused or recycled content in new products and buildings, Circular water, Circular energy, Other