Although home ownership is continuously supported by the regional authorities in Flanders, the housing market is not accessible to all. No less than 680,000 inhabitants of Flanders live in poverty and 153,910 are on a waiting list for social housing. In the transition toward the much-discussed circular economy lays, however, an opportunity to make quality-assured housing affordable again. The long-term gains, it promises by reuse and adaptability, could transform houses from a capital-intensive asset into a sustainable, risk-free investment. But although this sounds promising, practice so far has provided little evidence of the feasibility of this model. The question is therefore: how can we exploit the opportunities of the circular economy in construction to make the housing market more accessible? The opportunity to use the real-life context of a small building plot, and construction client, together with a network of research expertise and circularity forerunners was a promising breeding ground for a circular housing experiment and real-life learning. During a dozen team meetings, two large workshops and more than 20 face-to-face discussions with various stakeholders, the team that gathered around this context, and its network defined and refined the potential form and value of the aspired circular housing concept. This 2-year trajectory created a plethora of insights about that concept. Alternatives have been proposed and reviewed, for example, the creation of a Circular Economy Service Company, alternative forms of financing, circular design choices, or a service contract for technical services. In addition, all related questions and system challenges are mapped and structured. In this paper, we summarize this experience in 3 lessons learnt: a lesson about scale, one about values, and one about knowledge. They serve as hands-on advice increasing the “chances of success” of every next effort.
Cite this paper as: Galle W., Debacker W., De Weerdt Y., Poppe J., De Temmerman N. (2021) Can Circularity Make Housing Affordable Again? Preliminary Lessons About a Construction Experiment in Flanders Taking a Systems Perspective. In: Littlewood J., Howlett R.J., Jain L.C. (eds) Sustainability in Energy and Buildings 2020. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, vol 203. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8783-2_12