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VUB’s fully adaptable accommodation space a first in Europe
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has unveiled the Circular Retrofit Lab, a fancy name for a simple concept – renovating using only reusable materials. Eight student rooms on its campus in Etterbeek have been outfitted with materials that can be removed, changed and reused – even in other buildings.
The ambitious project is a European first, carried out by the university’s architectural engineering department using funds from the European Horizon 2020 programme. Fifteen institutions in seven countries are researching circular construction methods and business models with funds from the programme.
The construction sector is responsible for almost 40% of all waste – a huge figure. The VUB team, led by professor Niels De Temmerman, set out to prove that building can be environmentally friendlier and create less waste.
The student rooms were renovated using prefabricated panels and demountable wall systems, so the space can be altered – a little or dramatically. The rooms can be use as accommodation, but they can also serve as event space, laboratories or classrooms.
“The entire concept of the Circular Retrofit Lab is premised on change-oriented construction,” said De Temmerman. “The days when a building had only one function are over.”
Several Flemish concerns were involved in the project, including Reynaers Aluminium, which manufactured the façade panels, and Jaga, which co-developed sustainable heating systems. The rooms also use environmentally friendly water supply and lighting technology.
“This pilot project also proves that the prejudices still prevalent around circular construction are unjustified,” said De Temmerman. “These new, innovative materials offer just as much quality, comfort and architectural freedom as traditional building materials and methods.”
Photo courtesy VUB