Case Studies

Envisioning Circular Urban Projects, Cities and Regions: the case of Porte Ouest in Charleroi, Belgium

The ‘Forging the Fallow’ project was developed by Cecilia Furlan, Sven Mertens, Matthias Salaets, Michaël Stas, and Benjamin Vanbrabant for the Europan 15 Open Competition. In this video, Cecilia describes the project’s approach and especially, how circularity informed the group’s design decisions. This case study represents a fine example of circular principles can be operationalized across time, spatial flows and flows and how the landscape profoundly connects and shapes these flows.

Main Takeaways

  • Circular cities and regions are complex socio-economic and environmental systems.
  • Mapping can help is draw a clear picture of what is available. There are several analytical tools for mapping: interpretative mapping, social impact analysis, thinking in time and flows, and systemic design.
  • Circularity requires that we broaden our imagination and explore possible futures.
  • In the case of Porte Ouest, three actions were proposed: regenerating, reconnecting and recirculating. These aimed at reactivating the landscape; re-establishing an infrastructural connection to the site; and developing new activities based on the life-cycle of local resources respectively.
  • Whilst the spatial dimension is key, circularity can only be achieved through collaboration.

Project Details

Forging the Fallow

Location: Charleroi, BE
Program: Masterplan
Year: 2019-…
Client: City of Charleroi, Duferco
Status: Europan 15,  Open competition, Runner up (no winning project selected)
Budget: n/a
Fallow team: Cecilia Furlan, Sven Mertens, Matthias Salaets, Michaël Stas, Benjamin Vanbrabant

Link to the Europan site.

Further Reading

  • Fabian L. Giannotti E. & Viganò P. (2012). Recycling city : lifecycles embodied energy inclusion. Giavedoni.
  • Furlan, C., Stas, M., Vanbrabant, B., & Mertens, S. (2018). Vers les Pays Vert: The metamorphosis of Charleroi territory. Officina, (21 (Natura)), 40-49.
  • Furlan, C. (2019). Unfolding wasteland: a thick mapping approach to the transformation of Charleroi’s industrial landscape. In Mapping Landscapes in Transformation. Leuven University Press.
  • Furlan, C., & Gonella, G. (2019). Oltre lo scarto: Il paesaggio post industriale della Val di Sambre. In Territorio e Produzione (pp. 30-37). Quodlibet.


Cecilia Furlan
Cecilia Furlan
Postdoc Researcher

Dr. Arch. Cecilia Furlan is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Department of Urbanism, TU Delft and at the Institute of Landscape Architecture at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, BOKU Vienna. Since 2020, she also collaborated with the Design Science Hub of the University of Antwerp. She holds advanced degrees in architecture (IUAV Venice 2010), in Urbanism (European Postgraduate Master in Urbanism, IUAV Venice and KU Leuven 2012), and a joint PhD in Urbanism and Engineering (IUAV Venice and KU Leuven 2017). She was called to be a visiting researcher at UC Louvain, USI Antwerp and won the AESOP Young Investigator Training Program Award 2019. In 2019, She was selected as one of the winners of the EUROPAN15 design competition with a project that integrates systemic interventions with territorial design ones. Cecilia’s interest focuses on urban landscape design towards sustainability and circularity. In particular on sustainable urban landscape development under conditions of resource scarcity. She believes cities and territories can do more with less, working towards sustainable growth. 

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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