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'No Blank Slate' in Circular Maker City

year: 2021.1-2021.5

Site location: 72 Newcraighall Street, Edinburgh

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The economic growth driven by the combined effects of urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation leads to the current ‘take-make-dispose model to feed consumer appetites. This linear consumerism results in natural resources are easily extracted/mined/grown, manufactured, and then used before being disposed of at the end of the value chain. This project’s ecological design philosophies emphasise reusing, repurposing, and upcycling building components and materials into buildings with higher circularity to replace this ‘end-of-life’ concept and material-intensive production and consumption.


The project considers the proposed demolished building on 72 Newcraighall Road as the starting point of extracting untapped potential of existing building elements for use in new buildings. The presence of this project is built up by establishing a ‘material bank’ and activating a circular material supply chain that can constantly extract ‘Nutrients’ [building resources] from demolished buildings to ‘feed’ the construction projects in Edinburgh City. The new building programme on this site is a confluence of material warehouse & sorting centre, street market, and community services with a vision to encourage circular systems thinking to provide economic, social, and environmental merits for urban inhabitants looking to improve the quality of life. 

The main contributions of the project are: 


  • Establishing Circular Material Supply Chain

The project creates a “Nutrients [Building Resources] Flow” in Circular Urban Metabolism by channelling used building materials and components to new building sites. Figure.1 visualises the effective collaboration between multi-stakeholders to map flows of construction resources throughout a city, improving the ability to anticipate future availability of resources and move towards being more self-sufficient and circular.


  • Cosmopolitanism: Mediated “Material Banks”

The key to the macro-level supply chains is an information system. The project develops “material passports” to list the quantity and quality characteristics of all materials used and also stimulate recovery, recycling and reuse when the building is ultimately demolished. With more integrated planning of context with accurate information on circular potential, the used material can feed into new buildings.


  • Building Systems Made from Existing and Waste Products 


Apart from reconfiguring steelwork to roof trusses and reclaiming bricks for cladding, the project locates troublesome waste material, which is quickly filling up landfill sites and is difficult to reuse material, such as broken metal. This material then is reprocessed into a functional, perhaps reusable product. 



  • Creating Innovative Business Models

The project affords opportunities to expand circular economy into new areas such as collection and reverse logistics, remarketing, component remanufacturing and refurbishment. Reducing use of virgin material reduces exposure to price volatility and supply shocks due to natural disasters or political imbalances. Implementing circular economy concepts promotes wider re-evaluation of supply chains, which can lead to improved resilience.



  • "Re-activating’ Common Space

What is community needed, I believe, is to create a public sphere and weave social networks of comradeship built on co-shaping of common values amid the alienated social relations of contemporary society. The project raises the architectural volume by designing pilotis to free space for circulation under construction and build connectivity with the surrounding context. It also can accommodate a street market instead of constructing a new public space to avoid hyper-consumerism in the construction industry. The creation of street market is one of the key strategies in this project to create various forms of social interaction between diverse social groups and avoid loss of gemeinschaft-like life in Musselburgh. 



  • Government Sustainable Goals

The circular economy decouples economic growth from resource consumption, enabling cities to achieve prosperity while minimizing negative environmental impacts from landfills or incinerating waste. This can create jobs in areas such as high-quality recycling and repair practices and logistics. 

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