​Circular facade renovation

Client: OVAM – Vlaanderen Circulair 
Partners: Universiteit Gent, Algemene Bouw Maes, De Witte Aluminiumconstructies
Timing: 2019-2022
Status: realized

Research & development I Circular building

A circular system for large-scale façade renovations 
Building managers with a large patrimony often have residential buildings with similar characteristics. They usually have a long-term vision for the renovation of their patrimony, spread over decades. Acceleration of the renovation rate is required. There is often insufficient budget to undertake major renovation of all buildings. A temporary improvement of the building envelope will increase comfort until the major renovation. To avoid waste, that temporary improvement should be circular.


By looking at shared characteristics between buildings on a larger scale, the circularity of a façade renovation system can succeed. This is because in contemporary, building-specific systems, the chance of reuse decreases. 


This research team is developing a sustainable modular reusable façade system for renovation. It will allow rapid renovation of existing buildings in a circular way. Because of these features, the use is scalable and a large proportion of these residential buildings can be renovated in the short term. The system takes into account the option of reusing the existing external joinery, if relevant.

After an examination of all possible façade renovation systems and façade requirements, we arrive at a two-layer new façade

  • The first layer flattens any sloping facade and eliminates local unevenness in the facade surface. Technical pipes can run in here if necessary. 
  • The second layer consists of standardised timber-frame panels in 9 sizes that wrap the façade surface as much as possible. When choosing the materials and dimensions of the panels, we consider the environmental impact. 


The conclusion is that a reusable system ensures much higher material use. 

The panels can be reused several times as an element, but that still does not outweigh a non-reusable ETICS system in terms of environmental impact. 

The traditional ventilated façade, which allows reuse at material level, also scores well in terms of environmental impact and circularity. However, our solution is applicable in high-rise buildings and in the case of a non-quality internal cavity wall as infill brickwork. But we had to abandon the original goal of finding a system for all buildings. Based on a building's boundary conditions, the design team has to choose a suitable solution.

Bureau Bouwtechniek is leading this research project.

BB team: arch. Raf De Preter, ir. arch. Jona Van Steenkiste

Read more

more circularity

More on Cases in Flanders on Circular Flanders