Waugh Thistleton Architects

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Wood Circles components at scale

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Wood Circles building systems at scale

Woodcircles is a four-year research project co-funded by the European Union to investigate how we develop circular and sustainable solutions for timber in construction. Coordinated by the Danish Technological Institute, Woodcircles brings together the expertise of 20 organisations that together span the entire timber value chain, from architects, developers, contractors, and timber suppliers to academics, with the ultimate goal of accelerating the green transition of the construction sector.

The built environment is responsible for approximately 50% of all extracted materials and 35% of the EU’s total waste generation, with the production of cement and steel alone accounting for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By improving material efficiency and substituting energy intensive materials with renewable materials like wood, an estimated 80% of these emissions can be saved.

Currently, less than half of European waste-wood is being recycled, contributing to an estimated 50 million tonnes of waste annually. This €9 million project aims to significantly increase circularity in the timber supply chain, reducing the waste generated through its production, and creating systems that allow wood to be effectively re-purposed and re-used. Woodcircles is a unique opportunity that harnesses the collective research efforts of different industry stakeholders to develop a truly circular economy for timber in construction, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation, and materials consumption.

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A linear vs circular economy of construction

As a key partner in the project, we have delivered phased research that examines the ways in which we can use the urban forest as a material bank for construction, now and in the future. As part of Woodcircles we are developing systems and technology that facilitate the extraction of disused timber from the urban landscape, as a key source of recovered, carbon-neutral construction materials, complementing those materials resources harvested from the natural forest.          

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Wood Circles components after dissasembly

Our work investigates and demonstrates the different technologies required for the reappropriation of these wood products. We are working on the development of urban wood waste collection and processing facilities where non-standard pieces of timber can be sorted, graded, and laminated to become useful components for re-use, easily integrated into existing construction systems. In turn, we are optimising current systems where component-based design and assembly process are optimised for DFMAD and fully integrated with the latest BIM technology.

Our work looks to maximise the potential use of recovered wood products, towards the creation of a circular economy in timber construction. Woodcircles has the incredible potential to drastically reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector, decrease our dependency on energy-intensive, non-renewable resources, and maximise the lifetime of wood construction materials.

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Collaborators on the Woodcircles project