Circular Communities: The circular value flower as a design method for collectively closing resource flows


Els Leclercq
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Mo Smit
Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Keywords: circular economy, multiple value creation, co-production, spatial interventions, citizen engagement, integral approach, community design, neighbourhood design


In Circular Communities, pioneering, collectively supported initiatives that are aimed at closing resource cycles at neighbourhood level take a central position. They are all examples of initiatives that contribute to the transition to a circular economy. For the analysis of these different circular initiatives, the researchers – urban designer Els Leclercq and architect Mo Smit - developed a unique method: the Circular Value Flower method. This method helps to organize the collective closing of resource cycles (bio and tech materials, energy, water and nutrients) on a neighbourhood scale and provides insight into the added value (social, ecological, aesthetic, cultural and economic) that can be realized within the built environment. Circular Communities offers inspiration and lessons for integral sustainable interventions at the scale of the neighbourhood and ties in with the new Dutch Environmental Planning Act, which explicitly offers room for citizen initiatives and local commissioning in the Netherlands.


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Author Biographies

Els Leclercq, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Els is an urban designer, researcher and lecturer at the Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam. She carries out research into new organizational structures for innovative urban processes and how these structures play a role in the transition to a sustainable built environment. She is also interested in how decentralized circular approaches can provide technical and societal solutions at a global and local scale. Here, active involvement of citizens, datafication and digitalization (or the ‘smart city’) and a just and sustainable city take a central position. Els holds a PhD from the TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. The title of her thesis was ‘Privatisation of the Production of Public Space’.

Mo Smit, Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Mo Smit is an architect and works as a lecturer and researcher within the Chair of Architectural Engineering at the Delft University of Technology’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. Together with colleagues and students, she studies and develops solutions for a circular built environment, where she focuses on the innovation of bio-based construction methods and processes. As a result of her activities in Indonesia, she developed a passion for regional architecture, self-build communities and bio-based materials. Recently she initiated Bouwtuin in the Netherlands: cooperative action research that focuses on the use of natural building materials from the region.


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February 21, 2023


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