Circular algorithms

Summum Engineering is exploring the field of circular construction through research and engineering projects. In this spirit we are expanding our knowledge on the current possibilities for building with reclaimed, circular elements. This research project combines aspects of materialization, building technology and circular economy.

Our research project Circulair bouwen? Met bestaande voorraden! (Eng.: Circular construction? With existing stock!) – funded by the Province of South Holland – aims to create an inventory of the current possibilities for reclaimed materials within the Netherlands, specifically what data is or will be stored, who is storing it and how, and how it can be made available during design and engineering.

The work has been inspired by academic research on the topic and our own experience with the Domes Village in New Clark City, Philippines, which was made with reclaimed hardwood. The research also includes applied work, automatically resolving the matchmaking challenge between demand – the design of the timber facade of De Warren in Amsterdam – and supply – stocks of reclaimed hardwood bollards or mooring posts that must be sawn.



Due to population growth, it is expected that the Netherlands has to accommodate an additional one million households by 2050. As a result, the government aims for 75.000 houses to be built on an annual basis. Growth and densification of urban regions, combined with population decline in rural areas, will result in the demolition, renovation and construction of a large number of residential buildings, along with corresponding commercial buildings and infrastructure. Low-rise residential housing in the Netherlands is predominantly non-circular construction using resource-intensive prefab and in situ concrete with masonry cladding. By contrast, the government has set the ambitious goal for construction to be 100% circular by 2050.

Unfortunately, designing a circular building or structure is often described by architects as a labor-intensive puzzle, that, when solved, may still not make efficient and effective use of circular supply. Meanwhile, very recent developments in circular construction focus on mapping the supply of materials in existing buildings and supply retrieved from urban mining. This is done through so-called material passports, harvest maps and databases. However, this data is not made readily accessible, and therefore, critically, unavailable during design. Our research aims to contribute in resolving this problem.


We developed a working proof-of-concept retrieving all steel I-profiles from online marketplaces Insert Marktplaats, Matching Materials and Oogstkaart.

Check out our pitch for the NWO Open Mind grant, which explains the context and goal of our overall work. We involved TU Eindhoven to apply for this scientific grant, and have invited EPFL to consult with us, as an academic authority in this field.



We would like to create the opportunity for creative minds and experts who are involved in this direction to bring their work into our notice. By doing so you would give us the opportunity to take your achievements and ambitions into consideration while developing our methods and tools to support innovative concepts for circular construction.

The open source Python scripts are available on the Github repository.

You can support our work financially, and stay updated on the latest developments, via our Petje Af page.



Market research
Evgenia Kanli, Robert Verbeek, Diederik Veenendaal | Summum Engineering

Software and tool development
Diederik Veenendaal, Alessio Vigorito | Summum Engineering
Maryanne Wachter

The work by Summum Engineering was funded by the Province of South Holland.

    Time: 2021-2022
    Status: Ongoing research project


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