CIRCL (Groep Vanhout)
walls and floors made of wood, windows made of recycled PVC, insulation with cellulose flakes
heat pump, ventilation system D with heat recovery, solar panels

CIRCL is a digital housing concept that realises sustainable new-build or renovation projects in an industrial manner.

CIRCL, which stands for ‘Creating Innovative Residential Compact Living Spaces’, is a digital housing concept that realises new-build or renovation projects. The software creates different project variations to present to the customer. It can try out all the possible choices, showing the impact of each choice on the total price. A house can largely be produced industrially, meaning that it’s ready in six weeks. A house is energy-efficient, fully modular and demountable, so that all components can be reused. The house consists of 70% bio-based materials and 40% recycled materials.

The jury on CIRCL:

CIRCL rethinks traditional housing by cleverly combining 2D and 3D modules and components. The unique dimensions and connection of these industrially produced modules combined with a standardised placement of the various technical functions make it a fast-to-build system. The modules are also expandable and reusable as a result. With the accompanying software, the user can quickly adapt the design to the specific construction environment and personalise it.

How did the idea for this project come about?

Wim Pieters, founder of CIRCL within Groep Vanhout, is passionate about sustainability in construction. He brought Groep Vanhout into contact with the Interreg project Circular & Bio-based Construction Industry (CBCI) of KULeuven, Kamp C, Embuild and Buildwise, in which an initial prototype house was built and tested on the basis of the construction concept developed by Groep Vanhout. Peter Bertels, co-founder of CIRCL within Groep Vanhout, is passionate about digital innovation. Within Groep Vanhout, he was given the opportunity to develop the basis of the software, allowing CIRCL to become the first radically digital construction company in Flanders. The sustainable construction concept and digital approach are the perfect combination for maximum climate impact in construction.

What makes your project so special?

There are many things that make CIRCL special. Among other things, we are particularly proud of the combination of sustainability and digitalisation. In the construction sector, everyone (for example, in every study by Buildwise, KPMG and McKinsey) has spoken about these two aspects as the major trends for the future. With CIRCL we’re putting this into practice. Our parent company Groep Vanhout has been aware of sustainability for years, but with CIRCL we are going all the way in that respect, much further than ever before. The same applies to digitalisation: with CIRCL, for the first time we have a one-on-one link from digital design and digital price quotation calculation to industrial production of the parts and assembly on site plus the delivery of a digital as-built file. 

How does it contribute to a better world?

The construction sector accounts for 36% of all industrial waste, 40% of CO2 emissions and 50% of energy consumption. To be climate neutral by 2050, it is not enough just to build new homes sustainably. 85% of all buildings that will be standing in the European Union by 2050 already exist, and a huge wave of renovation is needed. CIRCL homes are 70% bio-based, consist of 40% recycled material and always have a negative energy label, ready for a climate-friendly future. CIRCL offers a solution for new construction on a piece of building land as well as for demolition and reconstruction of old (slum) dwellings. CIRCL’s digital approach is going to speed up the renovation because customers get a super speedy picture of what can be done with their slum and at what price.