Centre of Applied Research Technology


Integrated, circular, and digitally supported sustainable solutions for waste minimization and carbon capture in buildings and the construction sector


The construction sector is responsible for over 35% of the EU’s total waste generation, and accounts for about 50% of all extracted resources and an estimated at 5-12% of total GHG emissions. With the WOODCIRCLES project, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), as partner in a European consortium, is focusing on decreasing these numbers through large-scale use of waste wood in construction.

WOODCIRCLES combines the innovation power of an expert consortium consisting of stakeholders from all parts of the value chain, to bring forward a fully circular and sustainable future for wood construction. Together, the partners aim to develop new ways of recycling waste wood into engineered wood products, as well as new design guidelines and improved building construction systems with timber, so that more wood can be reused in construction. By doing so, WOODCIRCLES will help reduce Europe’s dependence on non-renewable resources, cut GHG emissions, reduce waste generation, offer long-term carbon sinks, and substitute fossil-based and carbon-intensive products.

Two challenges

The project addresses two main challenges:

  1. How to better identify and reuse waste wood from construction and demolition, now and in the future. Currently less than half of European waste-wood (an estimated resource of 50 million tons per year) is being recycled, mostly down cycled into particle board or burned as biomass for energy production.
  2. How to design tomorrow’s (multi-story) timber buildings so that materials and components can be easily and efficiently re-used in the future.

Three pillars

WOODCIRCLES activities are categorized in three main pillars.

1. development, design and digitalisation

During the first phase, waste wood resources will be identified and a model will be developed in order to efficiently map and analyze what comes available from the ‘Urban Forest’ (waste wood from urban areas) . Furthermore, a digital/robotic waste wood processing system will be developed to process waste wood.

The Digital Production Research Group of the AUAS plays an central role in this process. At the Robot Lab, they are busy developing the vision and applied technology for an "Urban Sawmill," which should be able to sort and clean variable pieces of waste wood, to convert them into standard (semi-finished) wood products (for CLT manufacturers, furniture makers or other wood-related industries).

For sorting, the wood has to be fully inspected, and the acquired data stored in a database. Then it can be smartly analyzed through computational design methods, to inform the required steps for processing it, through sawing, milling, planing or other processes of production.

2. documentation and demonstration

To demonstrate what WOODCIRCLES can achieve with circular design, reused wood and the Urban Sawmill, a prefabricated demonstration object will be build. This object will show what systems and products can be made with recycled wood. This object can be disassembled and exhibited in three partner cities: Rotterdam (Netherlands), Tartu (Estonia) and Turin (Italy). Furthermore and towards the end of the project, a prototype of the Urban Sawmill system will be demonstrated by the AUAS Robot Lab.

3. sustainability, deployment and business models

During the third phase, the sustainability and (local) deployment of the WOODCIRCLES solutions will be assessed. Based on the different project activities and connected results, a business model and exploitation strategy will be developed, to commercially implement and structurally integrate project results in the value chain.


Students and teacher/researchers connected to the Digital Production Research Group are actively involved in this project. At the Robot Lab, they are researching the various technical possibilities for selecting, processing and reusing wood from buildings that are being demolished or renovated. Due to the multidisciplinary aspects of this project, students from multiple backgrounds are therefore involved (Engineering, Built Environment, ICT, Communication, Business, and other).


The consortium partners represent the entire value chain for wood construction as well as universities, research organizations, and urban planning experts:

Danish Technological Institute – Coordinator (Denmark), Waugh Thistleton Architects Ltd. (United Kingdom), Stora Enso Oyj (Finland), University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Urbasofia SRL (Romania), Trimble (Finland), Enemærke & Petersen A/S (Denmark), Fundació ENT (Spain), Comune di Torino (Italy), EnviPark (Italy), Folkhem Trä AB (Sweden), Woodfiber Aps (Denmark), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands), Gemeente Rotterdam (Netherlands), Fondazione ICONS (Italy), Tartu Linn (Estonia), Easyscience (Austria), Rotho Blaas SRL (Italy), Iren SPA (Italy)

Digital Production Research Group

The Digital Production Research Group (DPRG) is led by Associate Lector Marta Malé-Alemany, Head of the Robot Lab. DPRG focusses on exploring the potential of Smart Industry for the Circular Transition, and is part of the professorship Circular Design & Business, of the Centre of Expertise City Net Zero. WOODCIRCLES is a very relevant project within the on-going research developments and expertise building of the group, which also works on computational design and robotic production with wood in a number of related projects.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 16 April 2024

Project Info

Start date 11 Jun 2023
End date 31 May 2027


Javid Jooshesh
Sebastian Yap
Bob Logeman
Valentijn Bors
Arwen Bijpost