Fresh from the press!

This paper represents our CBE Hub approach towards developing a scheme of what constitutes content for teaching circularity, how the goals for integrating it into the curricula can be formulated, and what type of pedagogy is suited to support the integration.
A big thank you to our amazing group of authors: Tillmann Klein Bob Geldermans Alexander Wandl and also to the Serbian Architecture Journal (SAJ) for the constructive review and for publishing.

Western universalism and civilization states

Western values seemed to many people living in Asia or Africa as just one alternative among many; Western values and norms still needed to be interpreted and enforced, and the most powerful nations in the West had always arrogated that task to themselves (…) universal values stood for the negation of the civilization-state and affirmed the freedom to experiment with different ways of life (…) the concept of a universal civilization helps justify Western cultural dominance of other societies and the need for those societies to ape Western practices and institutions (…) Universalism is the ideology of the West for confronting other cultures (…) lately, doubts have been growing about whether it is really necessary to imitate Western nations in order to acquire all the benefits of modern society (…) For a civilization-state, cultural ties are potentially more important than the mere legal status of citizenship (…) the defenders of the civilization-state are saying that the search for universal values is over, that all of us must accept that we speak only for ourselves and our societies (…) but if Western civilization is one of many, what stops the rest from pursuing their visions by engaging the same tools of state or military power? (…) different civilizations are universal in practice if not in aspiration; they may well compete for global power, but they all belong to a common, increasingly integrated political and economic landscape (…) The European Union is in the process of being reconfigured as a civilization-state, a political entity aggregating all those who live by a specific value system and using political tools to protect European civilization from the attacks of its enemies (…) if we have returned to a world of civilization-states, the root cause is the collapse of the concept of a world civilization

Notes from Bruno Macaes: The Attack Of The Civilization-State (June 2020),

A short history of doctorates

Dr. Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer was the first woman to obtain a PhD in Germany in the late 1780’s from the University of Gottingen. Marble Portrait bust of hers belongs to Jean-Antoine Houdon: Paris 1806. Photo by Andreas Praefcke (wiki)

The existence of the doctorate (the doctorate of philosophy dating back to the Renaissance) as a set of rituals and titles obtained at the end of a process for entry into dominant positions in guilds or professions, and also the acquisition of skills in the sciences (law, medicine, theology, and then natural philosophy) refers directly to the very long institutional history of universities (…) Universities were founded in the 12th century as networks of students or communities of teachers rather than institutions with a specific location, building and regulation (…) housing for the less fortunate students was what led to the creation of Unis as we know them today (…) interaction between a growing demand for administrators and professionals of the written word and the (re)discovery of knowledge through the translation of Arabic and Greek were the circumstances that set the stage for the Western universities to first take shape (…) medieval Unis drew their legitimacy from their monopoly to grant degrees, which stemmed from authorizations provided by religious (church) and state authorities, and gradually even by regional or urban authorities (…) criticism on usefulness, nature of knowledge and ways of learning and the establishment of the Academy of Sciences and of more specialized schools throughout Europe (second half of 18th century) called Unis into question (…) The history of university graduation is primarily the demonstration of the entanglement between knowledge acquisition processes and integration into the elite (…) Only a tiny fraction of students, who made up an infinitesimal part of the population, could afford to complete a doctorate (men, white, legitimate sons only) (…) French revolution devastated the Uni landscape. After that two models emerged: the French and the Prussian. In the first model, the universities did not disappear, but remained central only for the humanities, law and medicine. The latter, is not founded on personal development through individual research but on broad based exchange of knowledge (…) Last third of the 19th century was the time that universities developed distinct doctoral (PhD) degree programs.

The forms of contemporary research and higher education are the fruit of endogenous mutations such as the push for autonomy carried out by university administrations as well as exogenous pressures: transformation has been linked to the increasingly strong involvement of governments and private corporations in the definition of institutions and course content (…) Global consensus is that doctorates provide utilitarian knowledge, oriented towards entrepreneurship and industrial innovation but also service to individuals and society (…) national research management and development agencies support these efforts mainly through grants or contracts (…) In most countries, these models of doctoral, post-doctoral and research training have been developed especially in the STEM fields and disciplines (…) emergence of two principal forms of doctorates throughout Europe, North America, and in other countries: (1) the research doctorate, (which remains indispensable for academic careers) and (2) the professional doctorate (including multiple types, such as doctorates in business administration, doctorates in education, etc.), allowing access to careers outside academic institution

Notes from Jean-Claude Ruano-Borbalan’s: Doctoral education from its medieval foundations
to today’s globalisation and standardisation, European Journal of Education, DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12522

Our Summer School Video is now available!

During our Summer School sessions, our Dr. Bucky Lab, (aka Marcel Bilow) was silently circling the room with his equipment and was discretely filming our event. And now, he put together an amazing video that captures the energy in the room, while offering a comprehensive outlook of what went on in our sessions. Our first Summer School on Circularity in the Built Environment may be over, but thanks to this we will hold on to the event for much longer!

credits: Marcel Bilow

#BKTUDelft #circularityinthebuiltenvrionment #CBEHub #circularity #circulareconomy

Summer School on Circularity in the Built Environment now completed!

After months working on the ‘Scales to Aspects’ diagram, we were finally able to put it to test. From Sunday, July 10 to Tuesday, July 12 we held a Summer School on Circularity in the Built Environment here at TU Delft. We used Binckhorst as a case study, a post industrial area in the Hague currently transitioning to a residential/commercial area.

So, how can we achieve a circular transition? Is it just by using circular building products or circular building practices for the new buildings? Or do we also need to consider how pushing the industry away from the city will affect our circular goals? Where will all necessary materials come from? And what would be the role(s) of the local citizens?

The ‘Scales to Aspects’ model developed here by the CBE Hub was scrutinized by forty participants from all over the world using the input of twelve guest lecturers and the CBE Hub group; four new visions were created for a more circular transition for Binckhorst based on its specific context. In the following months we’ll study the results of what has been an amazing experience for all of us here at BK TU Delft and we’ll make sure to keep this conversation going. A big thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

#circularity #circularbuiltenvironment @BKTUDelft #summerschool

Closing the Knowledge Gap on Circularity: the CBE Hub Lifelong Education Programs 

Can academia provide society with a safe space for developing imaginaries and socially performing alternative political futures? Can it help reconnect the many knowledge domains that appear now to be dispersed and fragmented? And what is the role of adult learning in achieving this transition and in dealing with complex issues such as sustainability? Check our CLIMA2022 contribution for the section on Education co-authored with @TillmannKlein here:

The conference format was hybrid, you can check all presentations online

#circularity #circulareconomy #clima2022 #lifelonglearning #adultlearning #professionaleducation

Choice and Agency

Such a refreshing read as I always argue for these same claims. Here is some phrases that stayed with me: ‘choosing’ is a practice of continually aligning toward various decisions/ choosing is relational (we align to the present moment, who am I now?) while deciding is directional (concrete steps: where do I want to go?)/ there is choice and with it agency, everywhere.

Interesting note: we participate in decision making through multiple role: we are individuals, we belong to intermediary institutions, we belong to society systems. Networks is how we are connected. We are part of all networks with varying degrees of agency.

Summer School on Circularity in the built environment | Mark the dates: July 10-12 @TU Delft

We at the Circular Built Environment Hub (CBE Hub) of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, at TU Delft are happy to announce the new dates for our Summer School on Circularity in the Built Environment. The event will take place July 10-12 (Sunday to Tuesday) in Delft.

The topic of scales remains our main focus: for the past year we have worked extensively with our group to determine how circularity manifests at different scales and how the scales interrelate. We look forward to sharing this input with you and to getting your feedback.

An amazing line up of colleagues and guests will give you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of the theoretical aspects of circularity and circular economy and to learn from current examples from practice and our research. Our definitive program will be uploaded shortly on our website. We will also be visiting Binckhorst, a district in the Hague that aspires to become an exemplary circular redevelopment for South Holland with mixed residential-commercial and industrial uses. We will use this district as a case study to contextualize our discourse.

Students from all levels of education (BSc, MSc) as well as PhD researchers and professionals are welcome to participate. Only limited spots are available.

Stay tuned for more information or visit our website

Values in design

Value Sensitive Design (VSD/ Friedman): it accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner throughout the design process (…) value stands for what an individual or a group of people consider important in life (…) Friedman (2013) list 13 frequently implicated values: (1) human welfare, (2) ownership and property, (3) privacy, (4) freedom from bias, (5) universal usability, (6) trust, (7) autonomy, (8) informed consent, (9) accountability, (10) courtesy, (11) identity, (12) calmness, and (13) environmental sustainability

Value-led participatory design (VPD/ Leong & Iversen): to engage with values as the engine that drives the design activities (…) whereas values are: enduring beliefs that we hold concerning desirable modes of conduct or end-state of existence in different situations, societies, and cultural contexts (Leong & Iversen, 2015) (…) it is described as a three-phase process: the emergence, development, and grounding of values, trying to bring not only users’ and stakeholders’ values, but also designers’ values to the PD process— from early analysis to the final product

Value-Centred Design (VCD/ Cockton, also known as Worth-Centred): look in human-computer interaction as system-centred up to the 1970s, user-centred in the 1980s, and context-centred in the 1990s (…) now also value-centred as a fourth pillar (…) Cockton described four processes to the existing development methodologies: opportunity identification (by means of interviews), design, evaluation, and iteration.


Kheirandish, S., Funk, M., Wensveen, S. et al. HuValue: a tool to support design students in considering human values in their design. Int J Technol Des Educ 30, 1015–1041 (2020).

Smells like connectivism: Donna Haraway’s concept of situated knowledges

Text is written in 1988. I found affiliations to Morin’s Generalised Complexity (contradicting reductionism, resisting simplification), ANT (objects are actors/agents), CoPs (accountability as in critical positioning) and connectivism (knowledge as a multiplicity of locations/translations, constituted through webbed connections, forming nodes etc). Overall a must read.

Webs (and local knowledge) | (…) (Feminists) need an earth-wide network of connections, including the ability partially to translate knowledges among very different -and power differentiated communities. The alternative to relativism is partial, locatable, critical knowledges sustaining the possibility of webs of connections called solidarity in politics and shared conversations in epistemology (…) local knowledges have also to be in tension with the productive structurings that force unequal translations exchanges -material and semiotic- within the webs of knowledge and power. Webs can have the property of being systematic, even of being centrally structured global systems with deep filaments and tenacious tendrils into time, space and consciousness, which are the dimensions of world history (…) feminist embodiment resists fixation and is insatiably curious about the webs of different positioning.

Accountability | Feminist accountability requires a knowledge tuned to reasonance, not to dichotomy (…) science becomes the myth, of not what escapes human agency and responsibility in a realm above the fray, but rather, of accountability and responsibility for translations and solidarities linking the cacophonous visions and visionary voices that characterise the knowledge of the subjugated (…) the “equality” of positioning is a denial of responsibility and critical inquiry (…) positioning implies responsibility for our enabling practices.

Objectivity | Feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges (…) objectivity turns out to be about the particular and specific embodiment (…) only partial perspective promises objective vision (…) Feminist objectivity is about limited location and situated knowledge not about transcendence and splitting of subject and object (…) the imaginary and the rational -the visionary and the objective vision- hover close together (…) I want to argue for a doctrine and practice of objectivity that privileges contestation, deconstruction, passionate construction, webbed connections and hope of transformation of systems of knowledge (knowledge potent for constructing worlds less organised by axes of domination) and ways of seeing (…) We are not immediately present to ourselves (…) there is no way to be simultaneously in all, or wholly in any, of the privileged (ie subjugated) positions of gender, race, nation and class (…) there is not immediate vision from the standpoints of the subjugated. Identity, including self-identity, does not produce science; critical positioning does, that is, objectivity.

Location | The issue in politically engaged attacks on various empiricisms, reductionisms, or other versions of scientific authority should not be relativism -but location (…) Feminist embodiment, then, is not about fixed location in a reified body, female of otherwise, but about nodes in fields, inflections in orientations, and responsibility for difference in material-semiotic fields of meaning (…) Location is about vulnerability; location resists the politics of closure, finality, or simplification. Situated knowledges require that the object of knowledge be pictured as an actor and an agent, not as a screen, or a ground, or a resource, never finally as slave to a master that closes off the dialectic in his unique agency and his authorship of “objectivist” knowledge


Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies 14(3), (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575-599.

On community, content and event

Interesting point made by Melissa Emler here. I am thinking more about online communities here just like Stephen Downes (I found this post in his newsletter) thinking that maybe event is the most tricky one to organize in the sense that it is synchronous and therefore, more vulnerable. Also, I am thinking if community is equal to the other two or also a goal in itself: Emler says that without a community there is no sense-making. True, but a strong community is also needed for further learning, its being perhaps the only thing that not only instigates motivation towards learning but also feeds learning with more content.

ITU Circularity in Built Environment Symposium (17.11)

Just a short bit before the year changes, here is the link to the Istanbul Technical University Symposium I participated in last November. My contribution is included in the second session, but I would definitely recommend that you watched the third and final part of the symposium, our discussion. Thanks again to the organizers (ITU Circularity in Built Environment Research Group) and all the people present for the very inspiring and fruitful exchange.