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Waste: We do a lot of it, we know the consequences, and yet, society is still designed to put out without giving back.

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But recent years have seen some exciting movements toward better environmental practices, offering alternatives to both how we live and what we live in.

Prefab homes offer not just precise construction, but sustainable and economically efficient living quarters.

Arup Associates designed a sustainable prefab home using recycled, reusable, and sustainably sourced materials as a prototype for last year’s London Design Festival. Called Circular Economy Building, the prefab home proves the innovation of such construction just keeps getter better.

Built in just two weeks, the project reinvented the archetypal house by implementing refined prefab construction techniques and sustainable materials. The prefab reveals its Circular Economy elements by allowing visitors to observe the layers of the envelope, like the demountable SIPS panels and the structural steel frame, meant for extension and adaptation down the line. The message is clear: You can have your modern lifestyle and live in it, too — with the addition of sustainable architecture.

A press release from Arup Associates says:

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The Circular Building tests the maturity of circular economy thinking in the supply chain and examines what it means for building design. Can we design a building where, at the end of its life, all its components and materials can be re-used, re-manufactured or re-cycled? Asking this question profoundly alters design and construction priorities. Supplier engagement is critical, with both designers and suppliers challenged to think differently about materials and construction processes.

It’s refreshing to not just see such designs occurring, but to hear that the brains behind the brilliance want to start a conversation by “challenging” people to think differently. Why wouldn’t we want to implement more sustainable and economically efficient living into our lives?

Architects worked with Arup’s engineers to create a spatial design that utilizes sustainable building techniques. For instance, even the carpet can be replaced when worn out and sustainably refurbished and reused.

The prototype’s acoustic performance is also noteworthy, using an acoustic wall system built completely from recycled plastic bottles. And a high-tech automation system incorporates sensors to detect the interior environment and adjust the skylights, blinds, and lights.

Michael Reifer of Frener & Reifer, who was among collaborators on the project, notes:

The creation of architecture is a sociocultural task that influences our future. In the circular economy, the credo “less is more” is not enough in terms of how we utilise our natural resources to safeguard the future of our planet, because “less” is still too much. “Zero is even more”, to live up to this credo, this is the challenge we are confronting

The press release urged that every partner involved believes the circular economy to be an accessible way for the industry to “tackle the complex nature of the built environment through multidisciplinary working, and this can drive a shift towards more sustainable forms of value creation and economic growth.”

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