The Circular Economy


You’ve probably heard of the circular economy, but what’s wrong with the economy we have, why should it be going circular, and what can architects do to help?

What’s the problem?

Circular design promotes zero-waste. Image inspired by Circular Flanders.

The linear economy (or just the economy as non-economists call it) is characterised by the traditional “take-make-dispose” plan, where resources are collected (take), made into products (make) that are used until they are eventually thrown out (dispose). Adopters of circular thinking have cunningly started calling this plan the “take-make-waste” plan, to shine a light on the wastefulness of traditional economies – it doesn’t take a massive leap of logic to understand that we can’t take forever, this is where the circular economy comes in.

Circular Practices

Architects can play an integral role in the roll-out of the circular economy (pun intended), as the design stages are when most of the important decisions are made – by making sustainable choices, architects can get the ball rolling from the onset.

Buildings incorporating circular thinking should be designed to be long lasting and easy to maintain, whilst taking account of the “6 Rs”: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle & repair. From an architects viewpoint, those “6 Rs” might be crystallised to just 2 Rs – retrofitting and refurbishment, where old buildings are rethought, reused, repaired, waste is reduced, and components are recycled. Circular thinking at the design stages can reduce the amount of raw materials we take from the earth, the number of new products we need to be made, and the quantity of un-necessary waste we are committing to landfill annually.

Circular thinking at Morrow + Lorraine

As one of our 6 sustainable design principles, we strive to incorporate circular thinking into the design process for each and every project. From recycled floor tiles, to refurbished furniture, we are on a mission to transition our business model toward a circular future. More details below:

Recycled tiles used in The Warwick Building
Counter-top terrazzo made from waste product timber at 88 Wood Street
Fabrics made from recycled plastics at 88 Wood Street
Green outlines show the retained furniture in the Lord Howard Room at 23 Queen Anne Street
Original doors were also retained throughout 23 Queen Anne Street
For more information please get in touch at