Design Principles Definitions

Design Principles

Is the way we design buildings facilitating the transition to a circular built environment? What are the design principles that can help us conceptualize design in a manner that allows us to break the interdependence of the different building components? In this video Olga discusses the ‘Shearing Layers’ and ‘Open Building’ design principles and how they are driving circular design approaches.

Main Takeaways

  • The concept of ‘Shearing layers of change’ conceptualizes a building as an assemblage of a total of six layers: Site, Structure, Skin, Services, Space, and Stuff.
    The concept of ‘Open building’ advocates for the interdependency of the structural layer, to the infill systems for facades, inner walls and installations.
    Considering the different building layers to be independent is the key task for circular design.

Further Reading on ‘Shearing Layers’

  • Duffy, F. (1992). The Changing Workplace. London: Phaidon Press.
  • Brand, S. (1994). How Buildings Learn. New York: Viking

Further Reading on ‘Open Building’

  • Kendall, S. &Jonathan Teicher, T. (2000). Residential Open Building. London; New York: E & FN Spon
  • A comprehensive bibliography for ‘Open Building’ can be found here


Olga Ioannou
Olga Ioannou
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ing. Olga Ioannou is Assistant Professor at the Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology of TU Delft. She works for the chair of Building Product Innovation. She is in the steering committee of the Circular Built Environment Hub at TU Delft and a member of the Architectural Facades & Products (AF+P) group. Her expertise lies in architectural education, network learning and knowledge creation within the extended communities of knowledge. This is why she is now actively involved in developing programs for integrating circularity in the A+BE faculty curricula across all departments and levels of education.   

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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.

Visit Educators for Circularity