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CircuBED - Applying the circular economy to the design of social housing

The project aims to investigate the implementation of a circular economy in cities by social innovation to promote sustainable practices of producing and consuming in large socio-technical systems like social housing.

Applying the circular economy to the design of social housing
Applying the circular economy to the design of social housing.

The project aims to fill a gap in the current knowledge of the circular economy in cities by exploring the role of social innovation for the implementation of a circular economy in large social-technical systems like social housing. The circular economy offers ways to reshape current practices of resource management, production, and consumption to prosper sustainably.

To date, the circular economy has mainly focused on technological innovations with limited emphasis on changes in social practices and people behaviours even though resource efficiency depends on consumption and production patterns often linked to behaviour changes. Since social innovation promotes changes in social practices and relations while improving resource efficiency and self-reliance, it can play a crucial role in the transition to a circular economy for sustainable urban development.

This project is performed by literature review, case-study analysis and comparison, as well as communicative validation techniques through three stages:

  • WP1) analysis - exploring social innovation and the circular economy in cities
  • WP2) ideation - implementing social innovation for a circular economy in large socio-technical systems
  • WP3) assessment – evaluating benefits and impacts for encouraging and strengthening its development.

WP1) Exploring social innovation and the circular economy in cities - opportunities and issues for social housing

Exploring social innovation and the circular economy in cities.
Exploring social innovation and the circular economy in cities.

This study provides an overview of social innovation (SI) for a circular economy (CE) in cities. This exploration aims at understanding the role of SI in the implementation of a CE in large social-technical systems like social housing. The CE offers ways to enable society, the economy and the environment to prosper sustainably by rethinking and reshaping current practices of producing, consuming and disposing to satisfy our needs and provide resources without going beyond environmental limits. Resource efficiency depends on consumption and production patterns that are often linked to changes in behaviour.

To date, the CE has mainly focused on technological innovations at different levels – materials, products, business models and industrial systems - but a limited emphasis has been placed on changes in social practices and user behaviour. Since social innovation (SI) promotes changes in social practices and relations while increasing resource productivity and self-reliance, it can play a crucial role in the transition to a CE. Moreover, it is acknowledged that to achieve sustainability in large socio-technical systems like housing, energy, mobility and infrastructure technological innovation needs to be complemented by SI. The literature on SI has just been emerging in the past decade while SI for a circular built environment is an emergent research and practice area.

To contribute to knowledge development on the implementation of a CE through SI, this study provides a case studies database on SI for circularity in large urban socio-technical systems to systematically describe this heterogeneous field through a categorisation based on theoretical knowledge and empirical observation from a broad empirical sampling of contemporary initiatives. The developed database serves to formulate theoretical insights for the inclusion of SI in existing approaches on CE as well as show opportunities and issues for promoting its implementation into social housing communities.

Publications

  • Marchesi, M., Tweed, C. & Gerber D. (2020). Applying Circular Economy Principles to Urban Housing. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (under press).
  • Marchesi, M., & Tweed, C. (2020). Exploring social innovation and the circular economy in cities - opportunities and issues for social housing (under submission).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Grant Agreement n. 793021.

Grant amount195,454.80 euro
RoleProject leader
Project durationJune 2018 - February 2021
PartnersArup Foresight London
Clarion Housing Group

Project lead

Dr Marianna Marchesi

Dr Marianna Marchesi

Lecturer in Architectural Design
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

Email
marchesim@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 0923

Project supervisor

Professor Chris Tweed

Professor Chris Tweed

Head of School, Chair in Sustainable Design

Email
tweedac@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 6207