How flexible and adaptable buildings serve circular economy


The building sector is known for generating lots of waste. However, thanks to the rise of circular economy, more building or renovation projects succeed in reducing their environmental impact.

An option is to develop building designs that reduce the energy and water consumption. Another way is to work on the flexibility and adaptability of those buildings by maximizing the reutilization of materials and products.

To reuse these materials in an optimal manner, it’s essential to build multifunctional spaces and to anticipate potential changes in the space/building/shell by foreseeing solutions with minimal impact on the environment.

In this perspective, 3E worked on the parking lot of the Keerdok project in Mechelen (Belgium), providing support to the KAÏROS – IMMOBAM – MONTREAL THV consortium. This project consisted in developing a building concept including 500 parking spaces, several office spaces on the top floors, an area for retailing on the ground floor, diverse semi-public spaces, etc.

The project focused on flexibility and adaptability as two key concepts:

• The structure of the building as well as the floor-to-ceiling height have been designed to anticipate future modal splits where less cars would be used. Box-in-box solutions could namely be added to the existing structure, allowing a reconversion of the parking floor(s) into offices.
• Additionally, in case the building would have to accommodate more visitors, the design of the parking lot allows the installation of a substructure enabling the storage of two cars on top of each other, provided that self-steering cars become the norm.

Other circular economy concepts were applied to the project:

• Several areas are dedicated to shared cars and bikes,
• Several electrical charging stations are foreseen for electrical cars and bikes,
• Rainwater is reused in the building, reducing the consumption of drinking water,
• The building is connected to a renewable energy heating and cooling network thanks to onsite solar panels,
• The offices of the top floor can include coworking spaces, allowing employees to meet and work at a shorter distance and reducing underused meeting spaces.

All sustainable measures were monitored by 3E, ensuring that the ambitious targets set during the competition phase were reached.

Copyright of the picture: POLO Architects, AR-TE, VOGT, Vanderstraten, BAM Contractors, Immo Bam, Kaïros, Mont-Real