Casa Circular #2: building for the circular economy

Building for the circular economy makes lots of sense within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been challenging the status quo of our cities and way of life. The pandemic shows that, more than ever, we need to rethink how we occupy our territories and challenge society to redefine its values ​​and plan for the next challenges. In this context, a key element for transiting to a better and more circular society is to review the connection with the environment in which we live developing strategies for us to live integrated to a healthier planet. 

Casa Circular project emerges even before the pandemic scenario, as a way for us to answer environmental challenges we’ve been facing over the past decades. Casa Circular #2 is a building designed for circular economy and inspired by the Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) design framework. In this house, resources such as water, energy, biological nutrients and building materials are designed for being reused and recycled indefinitely and to circulate in safe and healthy flows.

This pioneering model of this construction was already presented here on the blog – in 2017, when we built Casa Circular # 1 – atelier. Casa Circular # 2 will be built in Jaguariúna, a medium city from São Paulo State. And it follows the same design principle and criteria as the first house. The main difference is that this will be a family house (the first serves as a studio), adding complexity to the design solutions. 

Innovation of inhabiting and construction standards

The owners of the Casa Circular #2 have been seeking to change their living standards to a simpler and more sustainable life. They have been already studying circular economy through one of our courses at Ideia Circular. And they want to reflect this knowledge to new ways of living in their new home. 

They aim to take care of water, capture renewable energy and apply the concept of a house being a material bank – enabling it to expand or to be reassembled in any other location. Rainwater harvesting systems, water reuse, waste treatment, nutrients composting and biodigestion, green roof, passive architecture, natural swimming pool, are solutions for Casa Circular. 


Planning is the most important step for this kind of innovation, because it enables continuous optimization of resource use and solutions. Therefore, the planning phase started from a research about existing species in the region and went until the furniture design: always seeking greater efficiency and versatility.

Prefabricated woodframe panels compose the modular construction system. Woodframe allows extensions, reductions and also dismemberment of the construction, enabling future materials transformation into new products and uses. Toxic resins, glue or mortar are not part of the project to allow that each material can return to its cycle in a healthy way.

Bioclimatic strategies

Casa Circular is designed to optimize renewable resources and to exist in harmony with the natural environment. Jaguariúna is a hot climate city during most of the year. The natural cooling system associates water slides with the positioning of the windows causing the ‘chimney effect’, which releases hot air through the upper openings. The rammed earth wall, the plant nursery attached to the facade, the green roof and the natural pool are also part of the thermal and acoustic comfort strategies, at the same time these solutions fulfill other functions as well. The pool, for example, captures and reserves rainwater, cools the internal and external spaces while ensuring a healthy area for leisure and rest.

Besides, several elements function for the treatment of water and organic matter: evapotranspiration basin for gray and black water from toilets, banana circle for gray water, biodigester for animal waste and organic matter and compost system for organic waste from the kitchen, which will feed back the vegetable garden and the plant nursery.

The house with infinite life

Living in the Casa Circular is a new way of inhabiting the Planet, as the Casa is seen as an integral part of nature. Moreover, the house proposes another way of constructing, where there is no concept of waste. Natural resources and healthy materials circulate within their spheres, either the biosphere or technosphere. Circular design and Cradle to Cradle® framework address buildings as material banks by thinking about what can happen next to each material, product or resource being used. And by doing so, the house connects with the surrounding areas and supports biodiversity, becoming a healthy, circular and regenerative place.


Circular Economy Path Report 2018 brings circular economy theme

Flock, in partnership with Ideia Circular, designed the Circular Economy Path Report 2018. The objective is to disseminate the knowledge developed during the Festival Path. The report summarizes the best moments of the circular economy circuit at the event. It’s an opportunity to understand more about circular economy, and what is going on in the Brazilian scenario. The Festival Path is considered the largest innovation and creativity festival in Brazil. In 2018 the event had an audience of 15.000 people during one weekend.

The festival takes place every year in Sao Paulo, and in 2018, Léa Gejer was invited to be the curator of the ‘circular economy‘ theme. For the the first time of the event, circular economy became one of the main topics. So, Léa was able to join national stakeholders from different practice areas of the topic.

“The festival has raised the theme of circular economy for different  innovation areas in Brazil,” says Léa. “It was an opportunity to bring together a diversity of stakeholders from all the national circular economy scenario”, completes the architect. “Ou work achieved a broad spectrum of the circular economy professionals as we managed to embrace many different areas: civil construction, design, economy, energy, management, technology”. In numbers, 23 experts were together, including architects, academics, engineers, economists, environmentalists, inventors, entrepreneurs, designers and managers.

Circular Economy Path Report 2018

“The importance of the report for those people who could not attend the festival is that they can have an overview of what has been discussed for the circular economy in Brazil” says the curator. The Circular Economy Path Report 2018 is available on the Ideia Circular website (only in Portuguese). 

“Next year, we intent to practice in a hands on style   what was said in this year festival. I mean, we want to make concrete design and action and go beyond theoretical possibilities for circular economy” says Léa. She will take part in the curatorship of the upcoming Festival Path.

To download the document of the Circular Economy Report 2018, it is necessary to enter in the Ideia Circular website. Just make a quick registration and that is it! Click here.

Casa Circular #1: atelier Sao Paulo

Casa Circular is a building designed for circular economy and inspired by cradle to cradle design framework. There are many differences between this type of construction and traditional ones, but what definitely differentiates these models is the question: “what’s next?”. For that, all used resources are able to circulate safely and healthy for nature and humans.

Furthermore, in circular economy, buildings are understood as material banks. For that, each material should be able to be reinserted in further cycles. They can be used for other constructions (assembly and disassembly), for the building’s enlargements or reductions, or they can be even transformed into new products.

Casa Circular first prototype is an artist’s atelier of 30m2. It was assembled in São Paulo city, Brazil. While the architects see a long way for the Brazilian industry to produce building materials that completely meet the values of circular design, they believe continuous improvements seem to be necessary and urgent. Hence, the atelier has been seen as a starting point. They have searched materials and systems currently available in the Brazilian market that would better attend the presented criteria. They decided to use woodframe panels and modular and prefabricated components for the construction technique. At the same time they follow the criteria described, they allow the buildings’ customization for further uses. 

In addition, they adopted the use of maximum natural lighting and fresh air  extensively. Also, they designed vertical openings (doors and windows) along with zeniths (sheds/light tubes in the ceiling) for indirect lighting. These openings also function as a chimney system for hot air, which naturally rises by the thermodynamic arrangement of the building. As a result, this system creates a kind of natural air conditioning. Rainwater is harvested and the effluent is treated through a banana tree circle, planted next to the building. The banana tree circle itself filters the water again, which can safely return to the system.

The strong word for circular design is “recyclable” rather than “recycled.” Still, they applied reused materials in the building. Therefore, the foundation of the house is made of used tires and gravel, and the external closures are made of wood, which was firstly used as concrete molds in another construction site. 

Moreover, in this type of construction, planning is essential for continuous optimization of the resources involved. There were 3 months for the design and planning phase, 15 days for pre-production and only 10 days for assembly the building. The construction was fast, with clear deadlines and pre-defined cost. As a result, there was no waste produced in-loco, and consequently no need for waste container. Besides, the building can be disassembled and reassembled in another location.

This project is the result of of the architects’ continuous search for an alternative to the way we have inhabited the planet. The exercise was to think constructions beyond their form and function, understanding them as places that should be healthy, circular and effective. For them, this is a path to a future of abundance rather than scarcity.

See what media is saying about us:

UOL – A casa com vida infinita

Archdaily – Casa Circular: arquitetas projetam atelier baseado na economia circular e princípios de sustentabilidade

Ideia Circular – Casa circular mostra na prática o que é um edifício circular

Átomo: Em harmonia com o meio ambiente

Award: Ensaios Urbanos National Competition

The design proposal for transformations in São Paulos’s Zoning Law was awarded by the Brazilian Institute of Architects – Sao Paulo and the Municipality of São Paulo – Urban Development Secretary in the national competition “Ensaios Urbanos: Designs for São Paulo Zoning”. The study was carried out and co-authored by Léa Gejer, Taícia Marques, Paula Dedecca, Gabriela Ortega, Laura Figueiredo and Bia Crocco.

Our proposal addresses urban corridors as catalysts for environmental, economic and social development through the integration of transport, green and built-up areas, and public spaces. Three design layers were thought of: flows, infrastructure and environment. The urban corridors work as radiators for a new urban design and landscape, which creates identity for the city. Besides, the design discusses the treatment of urban blocks instead of individual plots, in contrast to the existing city’s legislation.

Impulse Project

Impulse Project was one of the finalists in the last stages of the Arc Tiete project – Municipality of São Paulo/ Urban Development Secretary. Flock has coordinated and designed an interdisciplinary group of professionals – the Impulse Collective – aiming at the development of the pre-feasibility study of the Arc Tiete, an area of 6,000ha along the river floodplain.

In two months, we prepared a conceptual draft and a proposal for the territory. We presented studies for the next 32 years (2013- 2045) for the area’s development. The urban transformation is based on four themes: urban modeling, legal modeling, economic studies, and social and institutional interaction.


The concept of the project is based on the Tiete River’s history. Tiete is originally a meandering river that used to pulse while cutting the city’s territory. The river was alive and closely connected to Sao Paulo and its citizens. The river died when it was rectified and channeled in the 40’s, and became a physical and social barrier, that divides the northern and southern shores. In 2013, Tiete River is only remembered for its floods, pollution and damages.

The Impulse Project considers Tiete River as an instrument for the re-articulation of social, environmental and economic relations in the territory of Tiete Arc, bringing the river back to Sao Paulo’s citizens.

Click here for the complete project:



Flock was invited to set strategies on sustainability issues for the proposal from JMN Architects for the national competition for the headquarters building project of FATMA (Environment Foundation of Santa Catarina) and FAPESC (Foundation for Research and Innovation Santa Catarina), located in Florianópolis- SC- Brazil.

The Cradle to Cradle® methodology was embraced to ensure the closure of water, energy and material cycles, and to prioritize the encouragement of diversity in the building and its surroundings. Three steps were followed for each cycle: (1) reduction in demand, (2) Reuse flows on site and (3) use of renewable sources and generation of food to the surroundings.

An educational path to sustainability was also designed, in which the visitor would be guided through all the stages of the water, energy and material cycles. During this track the main strategies used for creating a building’s circular metabolism would be explained and demonstrated.




Jack in the Valley

Jack in the Valley proposal was co-authored by Léa Gejer, Taícia Marques and Antonio Fabiano Jr. and submitted to the international competition Transiting Cities, sponsored by RMIT Universty in partnership with state government agencies in Victoria and Latrobe City in Australia. The goal was to create sustainable alternatives in the short, medium and long terms for Latrobe Valley’s transition to become CO2 neutral. The valley is the largest coal producer in Australia and responsible for supplying 85% of the energy in the state of Victoria. A transition does not impact only on energy issues, but also on the economy, politics and society.

Therefore, tools are proposed for a successful development of this process. The transition would be developed through the application of 07 strategies: energy, water, transportation, community, innovation, nature and food.

The strategy of transition would generate the promotion of stronger communities, the increase of knowledge and the development of new technologies, research centers and universities. The idea is that the new design should come up through a multi-stakeholders process based on the idea that cities and landscapes are self-organizing systems that changes upon time.