Centre of Applied Research Technology

Circular Wood 4.0: Upscaling circular wood applications for hospitality

Industry 4.0-technologies give residual wood a second life in the hospitality sector


On average, a hospitality business renovates its entire interior every seven years, which constitutes an very high turnover and intense use of new materials for furnishing, wall paneling or other. Can that be done differently? In the Circular Wood 4.0 project, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is investigating the viability of making hospitality interiors from residual wood with the help of computational design and robotic production. To this end, AUAS works together with partners from the hospitality sector, wood industry and Smart Industry.

How can a smart upcycle wood factory, powered by advanced computational design processes and robotic production equipment, create meaningful applications from residual wood for the hospitality industry? That question is central to the Circular Wood 4.0 project. With this, the Digital Production Research Group (DPRG) at the Robot Lab of the AUAS aims to give residual wood a viable second life. This wood stream is often burned or processed into chipboard, because it is too labor intensive to process large quantities of wood of different sizes and types. Valuable residual wood thus becomes worthless waste, against the principles of the circular economy. However, digital design and production could support cost-effective reuse opportunities.

For Circular Wood 4.0, DPRG has deliberately sought cooperation with the hospitality sector. ‘Because hotel and restaurant businesses replace their interiors so often, there is much to be gained from creating valuable applications from residual wood,’ says AUAS project leader Marta Malé-Alemany. ‘Given that hospitality is a large sector in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, our research can have a great impact and help the circular economy move forward. Most importantly, the benefits are multi-faceted: besides the direct gains for the hospitality businesses, we also help the wood industry reduce waste, and encourage Smart Industry to apply their technologies for upcycling materials, which is an unexplored territory.'


The research consists of four parts:

  1. Computational design and robot production with residual wood

In this phase, digital design tools are developed: they ought to be able to input data from large amounts of dissimilar pieces of wood, and driven by smart algorithms which can select pieces of wood according to different design criteria. In addition, robotic production workstations are being designed that can process the design data and perform various production steps, such as scanning or cutting the wood to size.

  1. Digital twin – design, construction and validation

Central to this phase is the development of a digital twin of the physical robotic production workstations. A digital twin is a digital copy of an object or process, which makes it possible to explore its potential through simulation and testing. In this research, digital twinning will also be used to evaluate the performance of an plausible robot factory and run simulations of its production processes.

  1. Hospitality applications from residual wood

In this phase, designs and prototypes are made from residual wood, involving specific input and case-studies from hospitality. This is done in a series of cases, for participating hospitality partners (mainly hotels).

  1. Impact and business case

This phase measures the impact and business case of both the prototypes and the digitally produced product variations in the digital twin. This evaluation will be done using a KPI model previously developed by DPRG in an earlier project on circular wood. Based on the impact and the business case for each design, the overall viability of the upcycle wood factory is evaluated.


To share knowledge with all partners, two workshops will be held at the Robot Lab during the project. The first workshop is about digital design with residual wood, the second workshop focuses on robot production. In addition, two seminars for the Smart Industry about the research will be organized. Parties involved in the upcycling of wood are also invited to the Robot Lab to view the progress of the research. Finally, there is a closing event where the results of the project are shared with a large number of parties (beyond the project partners) of the hospitality sector.


The Robot Lab is committed to the integration of research and education. At the Robot Lab, students from various study programs for electives, minors and graduation internships are involved in project activities. In addition, the project results are processed in education as follows:

  • The design tools are incorporated in the Computational Design elective.
  • The digital twin is used in the minor Robotic Production and Circular Materials for the simulated production of designs, and in the Data Science minor.
  • The KPI model, business case and factory viability are used for the Sustainable Business and Factory of the Future electives.


For Circular Wood 4.0, AUAS works together with partners from various industries:

  • Partners from the wood industry: Amsterdamse Fijnhout, Fiction Factory, Helwig, Timmerfabriek Visser, CBM, Nijboer
  • Partners from Smart Industry: ABB, Rolan Robotics, SICK, Siemens, SMC
  • Partners from the hospitality sector: Municipality of Amsterdam (Koplopergroep Circulaire Hotels), Heineken, Stayokay, Table-Sage
  • Knowledge partners: TNO, HMC and Bouwlab R&Do

Position in the research programme

The Digital Production Research Group is part of the Centre of Expertise City Net Zero. CW4.0 is an important research project for the further development of the Robot Lab, which is also working on wood and the circular transition in a number of other projects (overarching theme: Urban Wood Factory).

The CW4.0 research is co-funded by SiA Taskforce for Applied Research, part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Published by  Faculty of Technology 16 May 2024

Project Info

Start date 01 Sep 2022
End date 31 Aug 2024


Javid Jooshesh
Sebastian Yap
Timo Bega
Guus Fölkel
Jerome Mies