Buildings As Material Banks: a vision

Our growing cities are constantly facing new needs for qualitative housing, work, logistics and mobility. Still, buildings are often created with only one function in mind. When societal needs or user preferences change, these mono-functional buildings usually become out-dated or even obsolete, resulting in a high rate of building vacancy and premature demolition.

Imagine what would happen if we embraced a whole new vision of buildings: Buildings As Material Banks



Considering Buildings as “Material Banks” is seeing them as repositories or stockpiles of valuable, high qualitaty materials that can easily be taken apart and recovered. By harvesting materials and parts during deconstruction and renovation of buildings, these materials can be reused in the construction, operation or refurbishment of other buildings, thus reducing the need for primary resource mining.

Moreover, the term ‘Buildings as Material Banks’ also refers to a materialised investment. It is more than investing money in property funds. In this vision, the building itself is considered as a materialised savings account for material resources, through which building materials, products and components are temporarily ‘deposited’ into a functional element or part of the building. When socio-economic conditions are favourable, (a part of) the materials, products and components may be retrieved for another investment: another building or another high quality application. Seeing material resources as a temporary way of materialising investments opens the door to a wide range of circular business models, in which economic and environmental value is conserved and created through reuse of materials, products, components and buildings, while (performance based) services are provided to support the daily life of (end) users.

The transition towards a circular and dynamic built environment will require several systemic changes, boosting opportunities and eliminating barriers, going beyond technical innovation. In order to spur this transition, the BAMB project aims to create a blueprint of short- and long-term activities needed to support these changes. This blueprint is a living communication tool; through reflexive monitoring of some pilot cases within the BAMB project it will be refined with some lesson learned on the field.

At the basis of the BAMB vision is a set of guiding principles that serves as a compass towards a positive impact on society and the environment.

Three major systemic changes have been identified to support the BAMB vision: