Circl – a building that became a movement

Project Details


Name: Circl – a building that became a movement

Category: Programme/Initiative

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Photo credit: Ossip van Duivenbode, copyright Arhitekten Cie.

Project Submission

Circular economy is the only sustainable economy providing for our growing human needs within the planetary boundaries. The built environment will increasingly become a crucial provider of clean energy and an urban mine for materials. With the 3,300 m2 Circl pavilion we tested how far we could go in putting this vision into practice. All within a realistic budget and planning, while meeting the high esthetical requirements as the pavilion is situated in the heart of the Amsterdam business district, at the entrance of the initiator and owner, Dutch bank ABN AMRO.

We took the existing theories on sustainability (energy neutral buildings, cradle to cradle, etc.) and added to this the focus on material scarcity and economic value. We designed Circl with as little material as possible, with maximum re- used or renewable materials. The future- proof design is easy to maintain, repair, dissemble, re- use and recycle. We created a building with 40% smaller CO2- footprint than a “linear” built reference building (KPMG study), with a bigger contribution by material design than energy neutrality over 30 years. The ultimate goal is a building without waste.

The functional plan was to provide event and meeting spaces for ABN AMRO and her clients, a restaurant and art exhibition space to better connect the neighborhood with the bank. Our architect described our leading design principle as “Circular allure”. Little did we know that this building, which opened its doors in September 2017, would allure a movement. It changed the way the partners involved perceive their profession. It made a bank, with 300 years of history, to make “accelerating the sustainability shift of her clients” the new strategic priority. More than 150.000 professionals, students and neighborhood residents have already visited Circl and more have heard our story. Thousands have participated in circular economy trainings, knowledge sharing and community events in Circl. The ripple effect is growing through the inspired new projects of our clients and partners. It’s a story worth sharing, we hope for ULI’s help in doing this.


Developer: BAM, Bunnik

Owner: ABN AMRO

Architect: Pi de Bruijn, de Architekten Cie 

Associate and Design Architect: Hans Hammink, de Architekten Cie