The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education: Enhancing Understanding and Innovation by Means of Situated Learning

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education: Enhancing Understanding and Innovation by Means of Situated Learning


  • Alexander Wandl Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands
  • Verena Balz Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands
  • Lei Qu Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands
  • Cecilia Furlan Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands
  • Gustavo Arciniegas Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands / Geo-Col GIS and Collaborative Planning–REPAiR Project, The Netherlands
  • Ulf Hackauf Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  The concept of circular economy (CE) is high on the agenda of many planning agencies in European countries. It has also become a prominent issue in European academic education institutions. It is expected that spatial planning and design can support and add the spatial quality dimension of such a transition towards CE. However, incorporating the concept of CE in an integrative manner in urban design and planning courses is challenging because of its metabolic and complex nature. This article presents the first results of integrating design-teaching activities at a faculty of architecture with an H2020-financed research project. The integration of research and design education provided the students with a situated and indeed transdisciplinary learning environment. Students understood that they needed to address challenges from a systemic perspective rather early in the design process, meaning to understand what the relations between different subsystems and their spatial structures are. Furthermore, the experiment provided evidence that the eco-innovative solutions developed by the students are seen as an effective option to achieve objectives for a transition towards CE by stakeholders.

Keywords:  Amsterdam Metropolitan Area; circular economy; design education; situated learning; urban design

Published:   27 September 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i3.2147


© Alexander Wandl, Verena Balz, Lei Qu, Cecilia Furlan, Gustavo Arciniegas, Ulf Hackauf. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.