the ultimate design brief

What if we put washing machines on the blockchain? What if we mapped out every city in the world’s material flows? What if we leased our phones? Or our clothes?

We’re lucky to work on some of the wildest and most challenging design briefs out there, finding freedom in the constraints that the linear economy has failed to consider before.

From practical tools and methodologies to tangible proofs of concept– every day, we put on our lab coats and rebuild the legal, financial, technological, and cultural foundation for circularity.

Head in the clouds, feet on the ground.

Mountains of clothes weighing you down?

We’ve got it sorted.

Every year, 4.7 million tonnes of post-consumer textiles are thrown away across North Western Europe simply because they have reached the end of their first use phase. This excess is an incredible opportunity to capture the inherent value of textiles, displace the use of virgin fibres upstream, and eliminate textile waste downstream.


The Fibersort is a technology that automatically sorts large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles by material composition. Once sorted, these materials become reliable, consistent inputs for high-value textile-to-textile recyclers.


We are the lead partner of this Interreg NWE-funded project, which brings together a consortium of six partners to optimise and realise the widespread implementation of the Fibersort technology. Other project partners are Procotex Corporation S.A., Reshare Leger des Heils, Smart Fibersorting, Valvan Baling Systems, and Worn Again.

Improved Machine

Better Sorting Accuracy: Significantly high for most pure and blended materials tested. For example, the 100% Cotton sorted material was chemically tested and results showed that the material composition was 98.5% cotton. In some materials such as polyester/cotton blends (65/35%) the latest trials have shown a 12% improvement from the machine's previous scanner.

Improved Productivity: The average cycle time at Smart Fibersorting is 2750 ms. This means it takes just under three seconds to sort one textile. With the upcoming automated feed-in in place, the machine will be able to sort up to one textile per second.

Improved Sorting Scanners:

By material composition: Already in place. Recognises 6 materials and its blends (Wool, Cotton, Polyester, Viscose, Polyamide and Acrylic).

By colour and structure: We are currently adding technology to sort by 3 types of structure and by over 30 colours by March 2020. The Fibersort sorting could result in a total library of 1.260 possible fractions with these two new additions.

A growing network

manufacturers and brands committed to participate in the Producer Network

The producer network  provides industry review and feedback on Fibersort and identifies viable business models, end markets, and technical requirements for recycled textiles.


collectors, sorters, recyclers committed to participate in the
Working Group

The working group identifies potential barriers, market influences, policies, and other factors that can impact the implementation of Fibersort over the long-term; defines standard grade groups for future Fibersort users to make and sell feedstocks for textile recycling technologies, as well as provides industry review and feedback on Fibersort


other organisations currently engaged in learning about the Fibersort technology and receiving regular updates on the project development

What’s next?

The Fibersort will be launched for commercialisation in March 2020, and there are ongoing discussions with several parties interested in the purchase of the machine. The aim is that 5 years after project end, 80.4 ktonnes are sorted and available for recycling. 10 years after project end, the expectation is 136 ktonnes sorted and ready to be recycled.

‘Building Value’ Community of Practice

The construction sector consumes up to 40 billion tons of materials every year. Buildings are the biggest sink of raw materials in the world. The built environment is critical to the transition to a circular economy. However, examples of circular construction are rare due to a lack of collaboration within the construction value chain, short-term financial models, and the perceived high costs of failure.

The ‘Building Value’ Community of Practice (CoP) brought together a collaborative, transparent, and multidisciplinary group of experts to define some of the financial challenges involved in circular construction. Adopting a ‘learning-by-doing’ approach, we anchored our work in the case of Eigen Haard – a Dutch housing corporation responsible for the circular redevelopment of 67 housing units in Amsterdam.

In partnership with the Sustainable Finance Lab, we invited representatives from the entire value chain to join the CoP, including experts in architecture (DOOR architects), design and engineering (Arup and Arcadis, Buro Loo, Re Use Materials), finance (ING),  accounting (NBA and Alfa),  surveying (RICS), law (Allen & Overy), data (Madaster), the construction market (Alba Concepts), and energy-as-a-service (THE FCTR E).

New valuing methods. Our work applied the concept of Building Layers and the Elements-Products-Materials (EPM) hierarchy to rethinking construction, and as a result, introduced new reforms to the way buildings are currently valued and financed.

Applying circular principles, every building can be conceived as six ‘layers’, each with their own lifespan. Accounting strategies can be developed to assess the value of each layer

To maintain value within each of the six layers, the EPM hierarchy prioritises the reuse of elements before products, and of products before materials.

Real life implications. We also evaluated the financial consequences of different circular strategies on Eigen Haard:

Extending the product lifespan of all the foundation layers
Re-use of windows
Modular kitchens
Energy and climate systems as-a-service

These scenario-building exercises informed the design process for 67 housing units, to be built in 2020.


At a glance

Lessons from CoP applied by 14 organisations to building, engineering and financing functions

Circular principles applied to designs for 67 circular residential housing apartments

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