Circular and Flexible Indoor Partitioning: A Design Conceptualization of Innovative Materials and Value Chains

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This article sheds light on the materialization and operation of residential partitioning wall components in relation to circular and flexible performance. The hypothesis is twofold: (1) A stronger integration of materialization and operation aspects is indispensable in establishing sustainable value-models, and (2) recent innovations, concerning the reversibility of material connections, will help disrupting the status-quo in that respect. Attention is drawn to renewable natural fibre composites (NFC), reversible adhesives, and biodegradable insulation materials. After a background sketch regarding the notion of time, change, and material circularity in design and planning, the housing challenge in the Amsterdam metropolitan area (AMA, the Netherlands) is described. Next, a design conceptualization stage is introduced, informed by two methods and tools in particular: Circ-Flex assessment, and activity-based spatial material flow analysis. Results of the conceptualization stage are presented regarding materialization and operation, culminating in Circ-Flex partitioning components, more specifically: Side panels and insulation. It was found that NFC can tackle current issues relating, most prominently, to circularity performance. Associated modifications in the value-chain occur, above all, in raw material sourcing, manufacturing, reutilization logistics, and data-sharing. The outcomes are valid for multiple building components other than indoor partitioning, such as kitchens and furniture, but also insulation—and interior side-sheeting—of walls and roofs in energy-renovations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number194
Number of pages24
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Development of Buildings: Design, Construction, Quality Inspection, Operation Management


  • circular economy
  • open building
  • flexible design
  • partitioning
  • natural fiber composites


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