(re)new(able) materials and circular design and construction processes

Climate change, CO2 emissions and resource scarcity – with the recognition of the Anthropocene, it is evident that the building sector must undergo a profound transformation. As a result, research has embarked on a quest to find real disruptors to current building technologies. In this quest for change, incremental improvements to existing systems are no longer sufficient. What is needed are highly speculative, high-potential approaches that accept and acknowledge failure as a learning process and integral development strategy. Beyond the reporting of our successes, the insights and knowledge gained from aberrations can hold enormous development potential.

Building with less material and impact is an essential part of any design decision, as man-made climate change and resource scarcity are undeniable. Two current trends are attempting to provide an answer: building with renewable resources and reusing existing building components. While timber as a renewable material is already experiencing a significant industrial push, and clay is following suit, new bio-building materials and processes are still in the laboratory. Advanced modelling, simulation and machine learning, augmented reality and robotics are key technologies for industrializing these novel construction processes.  While some experiments have shown potential for scalable solutions, others have demonstrated visual appeal but inadequacy as building systems.

Scaling, both in terms of the transition from laboratory to industry and from industry to grassroots, and from small robots to large robots, has significant implications across different domains. It requires integration not only in terms of practice and technology, but also with communities and individuals. In addition, the concept of scaling raises questions about how circular design challenges traditional notions of resource availability, socio ecological networks and ecosystem services, especially as we scale up. Recent advances in computational methods in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) have the potential to contribute significantly to the design for disassembly and scalability of building material reuse. Contributions will exemplify how we can model performance-based design, transformation and growth processes to measure and evaluate outcomes.

The Design Modelling Symposium 2024 welcomes participants to contribute innovative and pioneering projects from both research and practice. The symposium places particular emphasis on material efficiency, renewable resources, biomaterials and the reuse of existing building elements. The event will focus on advanced modelling, simulation and machine learning to explore design methods. In addition, augmented reality, additive manufacturing and robotics will be discussed, particularly in relation to manufacturing processes.

Along this path, sharing knowledge about deviations and obstacles will provide valuable insights to foster more effective collaboration in developing breakthrough solutions that address the challenges of climate change, CO2 emissions and resource scarcity in the building sector.

To enrich these discussions, the symposium welcomes diverse perspectives, including those from the realms of design, art, theory, and technology. By embracing these multidisciplinary viewpoints, the event aims to foster a comprehensive exploration of ideas and approaches towards sustainable design and construction.

Recap 2022