James Morton

September 20, 2023

Design for disassembly: future proofing our building stock

In the realm of engineering, we're accustomed to constructing the foundations of the future. But what if the future also includes gracefully undoing what we've built, not in a chaotic collapse, but in a deliberate disassembly of our structures? Enter the concept of Design for Deconstruction (DfD), an innovative approach that's reshaping how we think about the lifespan of our structures.

Design for Deconstruction
Looking ahead to a future where 80% of buildings in 2050 are already standing, we urgently need to adapt and reuse what we have. While championing the repurposing of existing assets, we can't ignore the need for new construction due to population growth and urbanisation. As we look optimistically towards a net-zero future, we must also acknowledge the significant resource depletion caused by the construction industry, which accounts for a third of global consumption. The solution lies in the power of disassembly—unlocking material value by dismantling and reusing our structures.
At its core, DfD is the art of designing buildings with the end in mind – specifically, the end-of-life stage. Imagine a building that is not just left to crumble, but rather carefully dismantled to salvage its assets. These assets encompass everything from systems and components to valuable materials, and DfD empowers and enables us to recover them with a commitment to quality preservation.

‘Design for Deconstruction is more than a design strategy; it's a visionary shift in the way we approach the built environment.’

James Morton
Design Engineer, Ramboll

The benefits of DfD extend beyond sustainability
While sustainability is a cornerstone of DfD, its benefits extend far beyond the green spectrum. Picture a world where buildings are not just erected, used, and discarded, but rather a world where materials are cherished, and their lifecycles are extended. By adopting DfD principles, we unlock an array of advantages that touch various aspects of engineering and society.
The benefits of Design for Deconstruction
Looking ahead: Pioneering a paradigm shift
Design for Deconstruction is more than a design strategy; it's a visionary shift in the way we approach the built environment. It's a call to reimagine structures not as static monuments but as vibrant ecosystems that can adapt, evolve, and continue to serve us.
As we delve into the realm of DfD, we become the architects of possibility, shaping a world where every connection is a pathway to renewal, and every material is a valuable resource waiting to embark on a new journey. It's about embracing innovation, sustainability, and a profound commitment to the future—one disassembled piece at a time.
The new guidance on circular economy and reuse is published by The Institution of Structural Engineers and is co-authored by Ramboll experts Brogan MacDonald, Paul Astle, James Morton, Kaspar Bajars and Scott Brookes. Reach out to us to learn more about how you can save cost and carbon through circular strategies, or go here to purchase the guidance.

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  • James Morton

    Design Engineer

    +44 7814 066536

    James Morton