Architecture, Waste, and the Circular Economy

 Guest Editor:

Ahmed K. Ali, Ph.D.

College of Architecture

Texas A&M University


Call for Articles

 Waste is a global crisis. The world is drowning in an unprecedented amount of waste due to an increasing linear economy model that drive humanity to consume more every day. It was reported that the average American citizen consume nearly 32 times more that the average Indian citizen. Companies, businesses, and corporates are continuously racing to deplete the planet’s natural resources in an astonishing rate. The design and construction sector alone are responsible for 30-40% of total solid waste worldwide, yet as architects, designers, and planners the waste problem is almost absent from the current discourse, both in practice and academia. Beyond sustainability, and as ideas such as the Dutch “CircularCity” become more appealing to architects and designers, the architectural education must adopt a transformational shift in the design thinking process to prepare a more responsible future architect. A shift from goal-oriented design to means-oriented design requires a shift in the design studio pedagogy. A transformation is needed in education, practice, research, and related professions to address the current and emerging economic challenges post pandemics, and through the built environment lens. It is time to define the role of architecture and design in the circular economy paradigm shift. What is the role of the architect and architectural education in the waste problem? How design thinking can address the unavoidable crisis? Could the design studio be activated as a catalyst to provide holistic solutions to the problem? This call is intended to push the research agenda and to highlight the possibilities for scholars, designers, academics, and architects for research, teaching, and scholarship on the role of both the Higher Education and practice in the Circular Economy.


With this special edition of ENQ: The ARCC Journal, we invite submissions of manuscripts that address research questions that encompass the broad issues of the relationship between architecture, design, and the circular economy. Articles addressing the broad topic in the built environment across different theoretical perspectives, epistemologies, and methodological approaches are encouraged. Scales addressed could be from the detail to the building to the city. We welcome also empirical research, literature reviews, theoretical arguments, and methodological outlines.


This issue of ENQ is open to contributions that reflect upon (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • Design thinking: Redefining the architectural design framework and design process for a circular economy paradigm. How does architecture contribute by humanistic approaches adding the sublime and poetry, instead of basic pragmatic expectations?
  • Materiality: Mapping and engagement in a resource-based project delivery system. How does architecture contribute to synergies between industries for circular economy material choices?
  • Design validation: Adding value to waste streams from manufacturers and industries. Quantifying value by data analysis for material efficiency. Generating awareness for the potential of data driven design for a CE approach.
  • Interdisciplinary studies: integrating ideas by collaborating across disciplines at early design stage. What are the possible disciplines the architect could partner with for CE design approach?
  • Design efficacy: Introducing methodologies to address untapped opportunity in design within a CE paradigm. Can architecture lead to new methodologies for sustainability? What new methods could arise from engaging architects in the circular economy paradigm?


  • January 15, 2021: Announcing the call for articles
  • May 1, 2021. Deadline for submission of articles
  • October 30, 2021. Publication of the Special Edition


Submit articles to :


To be considered for the special edition, select “Special Edition: Architecture, Waste, and the Circular Economy” under “section” in the first phase of the submission process.


More information for authors:





The modern view of a circular economy differs from the past. It has started in the second half of the 20th Century and is a case for the simultaneous and uncorrelated emergence of an idea: The following is a selection of articles on the circular economy, including those related to industrial ecology, urban metabolism and especially the built environment. The latter has tended to be overlooked, with most attention being focused on the manufacturing sector. (The Product-Life Institute, David Ness 2017).


  • Switzer, J F Q. 1963. The Life of Buildings in an Expanding Economy, Gold Medal Paper, Chartered Surveyor, Vol 96, No 2, August, 70-77.
  • Boulding, K. E. 1966. The economics of the coming spaceship earth. In H. Jarret (ed), Environmental quality in a growing economy, Baltimore, MD, John Hopkins University Press.
  • Webb, M. 1966. Rent-A-Wall, Archigram 7, London.
  • Kneese, A. V., Ayres, R. U., d’Arge, R. C. 1970. Economics and the Environment: A Materials Balance Approach, Resources for the Future Inc, Washington, DC. Distributed by John Hopkins Press, Baltimore and London.
  • Gordon, A. 1972, Designing for Survival: The President introduces his long life/loose fit/low energy study, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Journal, 79(9), 374-376.
  • Georgescu-Roegen, N. 1973. The entropy law and the economic problem, in Daly, H (ed), Toward a Steady-State Economy, W.H. Freeman and Co, San Francisco, 37-49.
  • Gordon, A. 1974. Architects and resource conservation, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Journal, Jan, 9-10.
  • Trenton, H. P. 1975. Terotechnology: the right life span, Building, 25 April.
  • Farrell, T. and Grimshaw, N. 1976. Buildings as a Resource, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Journal, Vol 83, No 5, 171-181.
  • Markus, T. A, ed. 1979. Building Conversion and Rehabilitation: Designing for Change in Building Use, Newnes-Butterworths, London.
  • Rifkin, J. 1980. Entropy: A New World View, The Viking Press, New York.
  • Georgescu-Roegen, N. 1986. The entropy law and the economic process in retrospect, Eastern Economic Journal 12(1), 3-25.
  • Hawken, P. 1993. The ecology of commerce, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London.
  • Tibbs, H. 1993. Industrial ecology: an environmental agenda for industry, Global Business Network.
  • Schmidt-Bleek, F. 1993. MIPS: The Fossil Makers, Factor 10 Institute, Carnoules.
  • Schmidt-Bleek, F. 1994. How to reach a sustainable economy, Wuppertal Papers No. 24, Factor 10 Institute, Germany. (accessed September 2016). vBrand, S. 1995. How buildings learn: what happens after they’re built? Penguin.
  • Von Weizsacker, E. von, Lovins, A. and Lovins, L. H. 1997. Factor 4, Doubling wealth – halving resource use, Earthscan, London.
  • Boons, F. and Baas, L. 1997. Types of Industrial ecology: the problem of coordination, Journal of Cleaner Production 5(1-2), 79-86.
  • Pauli, G. 1997. Zero emissions: the ultimate goal of cleaner production, Journal of Cleaner Production 5(1-2), 109-113.
  • Ayers, R. 1999. Products as service carriers: should we kill the messenger – or send it back? Zero Emissions Forum, UN University, Tokyo.
  • Hawken, P., Lovins, A., Lovins, L. Hunter. 1999. Natural capitalism: the next industrial revolution, Earthscan Publications Ltd, London.
  • White, A., Stoughton, M., Feng, L. 1999. Servicizing: the quiet transition to extended producer responsibility, The Tellus Institute, US.
  • Kohler, N. 1999. The relevance of the green building challenge: an observer’s perspective. Building Research and Information 27(4-5), 309-320.
  • Rees, W. 1999. Achieving sustainability: reform or transformation, Journal of Planning Literature 9(4), 343-361.
  • Newman, P. 1999. Sustainability and cities: extending the metabolism model, Landscape and Urban Planning 44, 219-226.
  • Rifkin, J. 2000. The age of access: how the shift from ownership to access is transforming capitalism, Penguin Books, London.
  • Chertow, M. 2000. Industrial symbiosis: literature and taxonomy, Annual Review Energy and Environment 25, 313-317.
  • Fishbein, B., McGarry, L. and Dillon, P. 2000. Leasing: a step toward producer responsibility. INFORM Inc, New York.
  • Dekker, E., S. Elliot, F. Smith, D. Blake, and F. Rowland. 2000. Energy and material flow through the urban ecosystem, Annual Review of Energy and the Environment 25, 685-740.
  • Heiskanen, E. and Jals, M. 2000. Dematerialization through services – a review and evaluation of the debate, Ministry of the Environment, Helsinki.
  • Kibert, C., Sendzimir, J. and B. Guy. 2000. Construction ecology and metabolism: natural system analogies for a sustainable built environment, Construction Management and Economics, 18(8), 903-916.
  • Ness, D. and B. Atkinson. 2001. Re-use/upgrading of existing building stock, Environment Design Guide DES 11, Australian Council of Building Design Professions Ltd (BDP).
  • Mont, O. 2001. Introducing and developing a Product-Service System (PSS) in Sweden, IIIEE Reports 2001:6, The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, Lund University, Sweden.
  • Cuperus, Y. 2001. An introduction to open building, Proceedings of the 9th International Group for Lean Construction Conference. Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore, 6 - 8 August 2001. Chua, David & Ballard, Glenn (eds.). National University of Singapore.
  • McDonough, W. and M. Braungart. 2002. Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things, North Point Press, New York.
  • Bringezu, S. 2002. Towards sustainable resource management in the European Union, Wuppertal Papers, No 121, Jan, Wuppertal Institute, Germany.
  • Kohler, N. and U. Hassler. 2002. The building stock as a research object, Building Research and Information 30(4), 226-236.
  • Ness, D. & Field, M. 2003. Cradle to cradle carpets and cities, Proceedings of SASBE03, Brisbane.
  • Ness, D. & Field, M. 2004. Cradle to cradle carpets and cities, CSIRO Sustainability Network Update 36E, 29 Jan.
  • Ehrenfield, J. 2004. Industrial ecology: a new field or only a metaphor? Journal of Cleaner Production 12, 825-831.
  • Ness D., Clement S., Field, M., Filar, J., Pullen, S. 2005. (Approaches Towards) Sustainability in the Built Environment Through Dematerialization, Proceedings of the Sustainable Buildings Conference (SB05). September, Tokyo.
  • Cooper, T. 2005. Slower consumption: reflections on product life spans and the ‘throwaway society’. Journal of Industrial Ecology 9(1-2), 51-67.
  • Chertow, M. and D. Lombardi. 2005. Quantifying economic and environmental benefits of co-located firms, Environmental Science and Technology 39(17), 6535-6541.
  • Yuan, Z., J. Bi, and Y. Moriguichi. 2006. The circular economy: a new development strategy in China, Journal of Industrial Ecology 10(1-2), 4-8.
  • Kennedy, C., Cuddihy, J. and J. Engel-Yan. 2007. The changing metabolism of cities, Journal of Industrial Ecology 11(2), 43-59.