FCRBE - Facilitating the circulation of reclaimed building elements in Northwestern Europe

Project Summary

Today in NW-Europe, only 1% of building elements are reused following their first application. Although a large number of elements are technically reusable, they end up being recycled by crushing or melting, or disposed. The result is a high environmental impact and a net loss of economic value.  

This project aims to increase by +50%, the amount of reclaimed building elements being circulated on its territory by 2032.

Focusing on the northern half of France, Belgium and the UK, the project also covers, with a lesser intensity, the Netherlands, Ireland, the rest of France and Luxembourg. This area houses thousands of SMEs specialised in the reclamation and supply of reusable building elements. Despite their obvious potential for the circular economy, these operators face significant challenges: visibility, access to important projects and integration in contemporary building practices. Today, the flow of recirculated goods stagnate and may even decrease  due to a lack of structured efforts.

To respond appropriately to these challenges, the project sets up an international partnership involving specialised organisations, trade associations, research centres, an architecture school and public administrations. It is rooted in earlier initiatives that were successfully initiated, on a local level.

The project will deliver:

  • 1 online directory that richly documents more than 1500 specialised reuse operators,
  • 1 pre-demolition audit method for reusable elements,
  • a set of 4 innovative specification methods for reclaimed products,
  • and more!

These tools will be tested and promoted through 36 pilot operations taking place in large (de)construction projects, whereby more than 360 tons of elements will be reused. Effective communication efforts towards the stakeholders of the construction industry (including public authorities) will facilitate a smooth integration of these outputs into field practices and policies.

Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Rotor 58 rue Prévinaire
michaelghyoot@rotordb.org www.rotordb.org
Name Contact Name Email Country
Salvo Ltd Thornton Kay thornton.kay@salvo.co.uk United Kingdom
Construction Confederation Lara Pérez Duenas lara.perezduenas@confederationconstruction.be Belgium
Belgian Building Research Institute Jeroen jeroen.vrijders@bbri.be Belgium
Scientific and technical Center for Building Sylvain Laurenceau sylvain.laurenceau@cstb.fr France
Brussels Environment Corinne Bernair cbernair@environnement.brussels Belgium
University of Brighton Duncan Baker-Brown D.Baker-brown@brighton.ac.uk United Kingdom
Bellastock Mathilde Billet mathilde.billet@bellastock.com France


2020/10/07: Workshop in Brussels on the pre-demolition audit

, Brussels

The FCRBE guides has been tackled during a Workshop organized by the Reuse Platform here in Brussels on the pre-demolition inventaries. The objectives of this event were to understand where the actors in the construction industry stand in the implementation of inventories with the aim of reusing building materials in their projects and to understand the obstacles they've met during its realization. This discussion also took place in order to define the place of this reuse-inventory in the framework of waste-related inventories. The FCRBE manuals are not presented in details during this workshop. The organisers of this event assumed that the participants were professionals already familiar with these tools.
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2020/02/14: FCRBE keeps collaborating with CHARM

, Westerlo, Belgium

On 14 February, members of FCRBE project participated to the inspiration day of another Interreg NWE project, CHARM « Circular Housing Asset Renovation & Management ». Both projects have a very similar scope, although each with a different focus and a different target group. During CHARM Inspiration Day at Kamp-C in Westerlo (Belgium), we had the opportunity of presenting FCRBE project : Emmanuel from Rotor briefly presented an overview of the project and Susie, also from Rotor, gave a short explanation of the upcoming « Guide to facilitate the integration of reclaimed building materials and products » during the workshop of the afternoon. Find all the details of this meeting and all presentations on the following links :
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2019/11: "Life under a cherry tree" exhibition and guided visits

, Brussels (La Loge)

In Life under a cherry tree, Rotor presents its cooperative design practice, while investigating the practicalities of the circular economy concept with particular regards to the building industry. The exhibition takes its title from a passage in Cradle to Cradle (2002), referring to a vision of an industry based on a system of “lifecycle development”. The aim is not only to document existing practices but also to imagine different circular economies that could come into existence.
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Application for Summer School now open

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The University of Brighton’s School of Architecture and Design are hosting a digital Summer Scholl aimed at students from the worlds of design, architecture, construction and engineering, The Digital School of Re-construction (SoR-c) will demonstrate ways to re-use materials and elements from the built environment. Read More

The FCRBE project on screen !

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At the end of 2020, "Un œil sur demain", a part of the RTBF's TV news, Belgium, is dedicated to the circularity in the construction sector and the reuse of building elements. You can find here, this piece of broadcast illustrated by the ZIN Project in Brussels and the ambitions of the Interreg FCRBE project ! Only in french. Read More

Rotor - Lead partner

Rotor is a research group, design studio and consultancy. It aims at making the reuse of components an accessible option for building professionals. Rotor created and manages Opalis.be, a local online directory of reuse operators. In 2015, the work of Rotor was awarded the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture under the patronage of UNESCO. Rotor recently launched the spin-off RotorDC, an innovative reclamation activity focussing on interior finishings from post-war buildings.



Bellastock is an experimental architecture organisation whose work focuses on the valorization of places and their material resources. Bellastock has experience with the reuse of building elements through demonstrative projects and national and European research programs. This has allowed them to provide technical assistance in more than 50 architectural projects.


Brussels Environment

BE is the public administration responsible for environment and energy in the Brussels Region. BE’s main mission is to survey the quality of air, water, soil, waste, noise and nature. BE is also responsible for defining strategic management plans for improving quality in above-mentioned fields and for launching awareness campaigns for citizens. Since 2008, BE has financed and coordinated the key projects that helped make Brussels a leader in the field of construction material reuse.


University of Brighton

The University of Brighton (UoB) is a community of 21,000 students and 2,800 staff based on five campuses in the coastal cities/towns of Brighton. The UoB possesses a diverse and vibrant research community of over 400 research staff and 300 research students. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked us 27 out of 128 universities for our world-leading research impact.


Salvo Ltd

For more than 25 years, Salvo has been a key organisation for the development of the reuse sector, primarily in the UK. Salvo carries out several activities including: networking information and advising on the trade of reclaimed construction elements (e.g. via SalvoWEB and architectural salvage fairs); providing consultancy to the construction sector and public authorities on reuse practices; conducting pre-demolition audits; assisting with materials procurement; surveying the sector.


Construction Confederation

The Construction Confederation is the main business organisation, social partner and representative body of the construction industry in Belgium. More than 15000 contractors have joined the Construction Confederation, from craftsmen to global players, carrying out all forms of building and civil engineering activities. The Confederation informs, supports, represents and promotes Belgian contractors at the local, national and international levels.

It has three regional entities for the three Belgian regions:

Belgian Building Research Institute

The statutory members of the BBRI include more than 90,000 Belgian construction companies, mostly SMEs. The BBRI’s primary business involves performing scientific and technical research for the benefit of its members; supplying technical information, assistance and advice to its members; contributing to the general innovation and development in the construction sector by performing research upon the request of the industry and the authorities.


Scientific and technical Center for Building

CSTB is the French national organisation providing research and innovation, consultancy, testing, training and certification services in the construction industry. The mission of the CSTB is to ensure the quality and safety of buildings, and to support innovation. The CSTB focuses on four key activities: research and consulting, assessment, certification and dissemination of knowledge. Its field of expertise covers construction products, buildings, and their integration into cities.


The realisation of this project is made possible thanks to the support of these co-financing partners:

Important notice:

The Digital School of Re-construction (Digi-SoR-c) summer school will run from Monday 2nd August 2021 for two weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has already submitted an application. We have informed each person who applied in 2020 of the change in plans. We will send each of you confirmation of the new dates and contact you to find out whether you are still interested in being considered in 2021 (those who were eligible in 2020 will be eligible in 2021 regardless if they are studying or not). We will update all North West Europe (NWE) universities of this announcement, and we will be in touch to ask them to promote the SoR-c Summer School. Applications will re-open in March 2021. Thank you once again for your interest in the Summer School and your patience in these uncertain times.


The University of Brighton’s School of Architecture and Design are hosting a digital Summer School aimed at students from the worlds of design, architecture, construction and engineering. The digital School of Re-construction (SoR-c) will demonstrate ways to re-use materials and elements from the built environment.

Our team at the University of Brighton includes Anthony Roberts, Nick Gant, Dr Ryan Woodard, Siobhan O’Dowd and is led by senior lecturer and architect Duncan Baker-Brown best known for coordinating the building of the Brighton Waste House, “Europe’s first permanent building made of materials other people discarded”.


WHEN: 2-13 August 2021 (weekdays only)

WHERE: Online MS Teams/Zoom


DURATION: 2 weeks (40 hours over two weeks)

Application Deadline: 23 April 21

Registration Deadline: 31 May 21

EMAIL:  School-of-Re-construction@brighton.ac.uk

FOLLOW: Instagram / Twitter

PROMTE: A3 Poster

From left to right: Duncan Baker-Brown, Antony Roberts, Nick Gant, Dr. Ryan Woodard, Siobhan O'Dowd.

We will be joined (online) by partners from across North-West Europe*, including re-use experts Rotor from Belgium, and Bellastock from France, who are deconstructing the 59-storey Montparnasse Tower in Paris.

The School of Re-construction is part of an EU ERDF €4.33million Interreg NWE project entitled, ‘Facilitating the Circulation of Reclaimed Building Elements’ (FCRBE) which runs from 2019 to 2022. It will deliver, among others:

  • An online directory of more than 1500 specialised salvage dealers and allied businesses in North-West Europe.
  • A pre-demolition 'tool kit' designed to help clients assess the re-use potential of materials and products present in buildings slated for demolition.
  • A specifications manual to help construction professionals integrate reclaimed building materials and products in large-scale projects.
  • Test and promote tools through 36 pilot operations taking place in large (de)-construction projects across North-West Europe.

This project responds to the worldwide declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergency, and locally to Brighton and Hove’s ambition to be Net Carbon Neutral by 2030.

*North-West Europe includes Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland  and the Netherlands.

Topic 2021: Re-think Re-Use

Digital School of Re-construction 2021

Students from different regions will work in teams with designers and makers to re-think and re-use, through the re-construction of disassembled materials to create a series of thought-provoking digital design interventions, that will prove that “there’s no such thing as waste, just stuff in the wrong place!”

Drawing on the partners and work of the Interreg FCRBE project the Summer School will include discussions and debates on topics relating to urban mining, resource mapping, deconstruction, re-use, and buildings as material banks.

Drawing from their immediate environment’s, each participant will survey a chosen artefact, room, or building with a view to digitally unpacking and deconstructing them. Each of the eight teams will create their own digital library; to be shared, interrogated, understood and re-imagined as a ‘new’ proposition.

Since the rise of modernity, design usually precedes construction. Consequently, designers generally develop their projects around standardized, stable and predictable construction products or they order specialised production of bespoke elements that will match their requirements. In essence, reclaimed products are the exact opposite of this: they are largely heterogeneous, unpredictable, and situated. In this sense, they question the habits of designers.

We will tackle this question by challenging each team to design and realise a small construction out of reclaimed elements in response to one of the workshop themes as detailed below.

These themes pose questions and provide a particular ‘lens’ for re-structuring elements that are usually discarded or re-worked. Each team will have an array of digitally reclaimed elements sourced from across the Interreg FCRBE region to choose and experiment with.

All these realisations are small living laboratories that will allow you to have direct  experience with these challenges. The two-week-long workshop will culminate in a carefully curated online exhibition of these experimental design interventions.


The following themes should be read as specific ‘lenses’ through which participants will look at their particular ‘libraries of elements’. Please note that they might be slightly adapted depending on what will have been surveyed and collected by each of the teams taking part.

Theme 1 THE RAW:

The aim of re-use that will be explored, is how to effect a new condition by NOT altering, or ‘re-cooking’, the materials gained by reclamation. By working with the dismantled elements in their ‘raw’, or unaltered form – what are the possibilities of reconfiguring them into new, spatial and material combinations?

Theme 2 THE ‘USELESS’:

Materials deemed ‘useless’ are often cheap, can be found in abundance and as a result, are often discarded as not worthy of consideration. How can we make these rejected elements useful and desirable for construction?


Materials that exist as a by-product of conventional modes of production can often be overlooked and ignored. How can they become one of the re-fashioned and delivered as a newly envisioned focus that supports the act of re-use?


Systems and materials are often standardised and configured in conflicting or unaccommodating arrays of sizes and shapes, which generates more waste. How can they be combined to create new, workable relationships through the crude use of montage?

Theme 5 THE ‘OFF-CUT’:

The off-cut is notoriously known for being ‘not quite long enough’. By only utilising these awkward materials the question again arises, how can these usually discarded elements be re-examined and re-combined to form workable structures and envelopes that might not conform to the notion of the standard?


SoR-c Summer School Programme (details to follow)

Those who have applied in 2020 will be contacted to find out if they would like to be considered for the 2021 summer school.

Applications to the School of Re-construction will re-open in March 2021 and will close on 23 April 2021.

To apply you will need to follow a two-step process: an online application and a motivational statement. Students who supplied this information in 2020 will be considered for the 2021 event.

80 places will be offered to students from across North-West European regions. Successful applicants will be confirmed by 14th May 2021.  Registration will be by 31 May 2021.

The two-step process involves:

Step 1.  Fill in this application form, which will require the following:

  •  Confirmation that you can demonstrate proof of registration or offer within a school of design, architecture, construction or engineering (or related area) in 2020 or 2021
  • Full name, country of residence, address, email address, telephone contact, university, name of course and the qualification level that you’re currently studying at.
  • This step includes agreement to both the Summer School privacy notice and the Terms and Conditions.

Step 2. Please provide the following information in a PDF file and email it to us at School-of-Re-construction@brighton.ac.uk.   

  • Your name and the name of the university you are attending in 2021.
  • A motivation statement (max. 500 words) inspired by one or more of the themes, outlining your skills and suitability for these chosen themes. Cite three references, this can include books, articles, films, pieces of art or architecture projects, with a short explanation of their relevance to the chosen workshop themes. Make it clear whether work referenced is your work or others.



When and where is the summer school?

The Summer School will run between the 2 and 13 August 2021. The Summer School will be run as a digital online event. If you are selected you will be sent the registration details.

How do I apply for the Summer School?

There are two steps, an online application form and information that needs to be sent directly to us via email. Please follow the application process as outlined here.

If you have any questions, or need some help, you can reach us on [00 44 (0)1273 642915] or at School-of-Re-construction@brighton.ac.uk.

If you applied last year and submitted your online application only please send in your motivational statement. We will send you a reminder.

If you submitted both the online application and the motivational statement, you only need to confirm that you would like to be considered for selection.

There are a limited number of places so please be sure to complete these steps.

Who can apply?

Applicants must be university students, studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level during 2020 or 21, in areas related to design, architecture, construction or engineering.

You must be proficient in English.

Please see the SoR-c SS Terms and Conditions for the eligibility criteria.

If I applied last year as a student but am not one in 2021 am I eligible?

It has been agreed that those who applied in 2020 will still be eligible whether or not they are studying in 2021. We will send you an email to update you on the new dates and ask you whether you would still like to be considered. If you have not submitted your motivational letter we will ask you to do so.

When is the application deadline?

The deadline for applications is Friday 23 April 2021.

When is the registration deadline?

The deadline for registration is 31st May 2021. If you are selected we will send you a link to register your confirmation that you wish to enrol.

How much will it cost?

There is no cost for this digital event.

Evidence for completion of registration

In addition to confirming your availability to attend all sessions you will also need to provide evidence that:

  • You are either registered or have a place as an undergraduate or postgraduate in 2020 or 2021.
  • You are registered within a School of design, architecture, construction or engineering in 2020 or 2021 at a recognised university

Once you have registered we will keep you informed about Summer School, and ensure access to the materials and online programme.

Do I need to speak English?

Yes, the Summer School will be conducted in English therefore applicants will need to be fluent in English to take part. We will assess your written application for proficiency in English.

Any other questions?

For any other questions not covered here please contact us at School-of-Re-construction@brighton.ac.uk

Get in touch:

Email:  School-of-Re-construction@brighton.ac.uk

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