Circularity and Systems

Closed and Open Systems: Join the discussion

To understand the importance of non-linearity when approaching issues of circularity, one needs to consider the crucial differences between closed and open systems. Closed systems are systems where constant conjunctions of events can be recognised, while, in open systems, forces are in a state of such an unpredictable intensity that isolating one type of force vis-à-vis another seems impossible. This second type of systems are the norm and not the exception. Based on their degree of closure and openness, systems differ accordingly in scale, stability, and the ways they deal with their symmetry, or in other words, with their degrees of freedom. In brief, systems which are governed by linear causality, closed systems such as most of our traditional epistemological practices, are systems which are ultra-stable and do not evolve: a closed system presents no possibilities of transformation. On the other hand, non-linear, open systems are metastable: they can transform, for better or worse. As such, a metastable system is transversed by potentials and powers, by energy gradients and inherent tendencies so that at any moment the most minute imbalance, the most fleeting encounter, can be enough to set things in motion and lead to a systemic transformation. If a discussion on circularity aims to a true systemic shift, then the question is how can one recognise which are those singular yet indeterminate metastable tendencies that can catalyse change?


Stavros Kousoulas
Stavros Kousoulas
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ir. Stavros Kousoulas is Assistant Professor of Architecture Philosophy and Theory in the Faculty of Architecture of TU Delft. He has studied Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and at TU Delft. He received his doctoral title cum laude from IUAV Venice participating in the Villard d’ Honnecourt International Research Doctorate. He has published and lectured in Europe and abroad. He is a member of the editorial board of Footprint Delft Architecture Theory Journal since 2014. He is the author of the book Architectural Technicities (2022) and the edited volumes Architectures of Life and Death (with A. Radman, 2021) and Design Commons (with G. Bruyns, 2022). 

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Circularity for Educators

The platform is intended to provide with content on either circularity or pedagogy for and about circularity. It is one of the outcomes of the Circular Impulse Initiative (CII), a project intending to enhance the integration of circularity in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment education. The platform mainly aims to help tutors get better acquainted with circularity in the built environment by providing a series of resources on this subject that they can either view to get better informed or directly share with their students in class or online. A large number of the Faculty's professors and researchers have contributed substantially both in creating a coherent narrative for circularity in the built environment as well as further elaborating on different aspects of it. Besides this one, a new platform for interaction and direct exchange was also established in parallel that we call ‘Educators for Circularity‘. This one offers the opportunity for all of us to meet and share our experiences and learn from one another.

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