It’s time for you to know: CITIES’ third publication is under way! And it’s time for the world to know: a community-centered, circular move beyond “take-make-waste” habits is within reach for city makers and citizens alike. This book will show a way forward.

We live in a linear world. The stubborn inertia of a dominant “business as usual” has spread wasteful habits throughout cities of the global north. Economic interactions and socio-spatial developments follow suit. This is the WASTED City: an urban settlement where it is difficult to develop and instill circular systems on a grand scale. But it is not impossible.

Beyond the WASTED City: Socio-Spatial Transitions for Circular City Making (working title) was born to battle outdated styles of city making and city living – to conjecture, explore, examine, analyze and propose a new urban standard. The end result, however, is at this point unknown and less significant. It is the process that matters. The ways in which we think, act, eat, build and live our lives on the local scale today will change the world on a global scale tomorrow.

Our intent is to create a publication that offers tools and strategies helping urban professionals, academics, students and citizens bring the discourse and practice of circular city making forward.

The truly circular city is utopian. It is an idealized vision for cities where nothing is wasted – where regenerative resource management traverses built, social and natural environments. The urgency and ambition to create such sustainable urban futures is stronger than ever before. However, amid amplified efforts, cities remain dominantly linear. Why?

Looking at the city as an ecosystem, urban planning, design and architecture practices adapt the built environment in which people interact as organisms within a complex system. We see grand opportunity for planners to reinterpret the landscape and act in a more inclusive, cooperative fashion that propagates sustainable economic activity and vigorous cultural strength. How?

Urban professionals are not the only city makers active in shaping our cities. Increasingly, diverse actors from citizens to creative entrepreneurs and companies are entering the field of sustainable urban development.

We see a way forward. It begins and ends with people. By grounding city making approaches in co-creational initiatives based on collective urban process management, we see the stimulation of cross-sector approaches that mingle actors in realizing newfound methods that accelerate the integration of circular practices in cities, developing a new level of collective socio-spatial urban ownership amongst all.

We see such stimulation through our own practice. CITIES Foundation has researched, developed and implemented multiple publications, local projects and a start-up company which all provide more circular, sustainable and community-led city making approaches. Each initiative comes with multi-actor, cross-sector collaboration that forms around the co-management with the final users of sustainable practices.

Based on our practical examples, this publication aims to advance a new standard of circular city making that roots academic, professional and informal citizen thinking and action in an effective process that begins and ends with people, with the goal to bring this discourse to the eyes of a more mainstream public.


Our argument hypothesizes that circular city making is in need of a new socio-spatial approach to integrate existing efforts – in governance, architecture, urban planning and everyday behavioral practices. Case study analysis is ideally suited to support this argument, as it allows us to turn a complex, wide research area into accessible material, and to further provide a pinpointed toolset that aids students and professionals alike.

A large part of the book will consequently focus on case study analyses of circular city making initiatives, where we zoom in on concrete examples. Drawing
 out real-life nuances, practical case research will 
also provide more textured, valuable information
 for to readers – ranging from students and citizens to professionals both interested and active in sustainable socio-spatial city making.

From working, operating and researching the field of circular city making with a focus on people-driven, circular change in socio-spatial environments, we defined two extremes within a wide range of circular city making approaches: large-scale ‘visual-savvy’ and small-scale ‘niche’ initiatives. We will look at a diversity of case examples nearing one end or the other of this spectrum – zooming in on areas essential to circular city making and citizens’ rights:

– Housing
– Food
– Energy
– Health care
– Mobility and transport
– Resource management

Although extremely operation-focused, we strive to develop and co-create a new discourse that can be understood and shared by many urban professionals facing the contemporary challenge of transforming our urban realities. To deliver greater reach, understanding and impact, an array of academic professionals will react on our analysis, helping contextualize the practice-driven conclusions to a broader scope.

Find out more here.
Production of this book is funded by the Creative Industries Fund NL’s Grant Program for Architecture, and we are pleased to be working yet again with the publisher Trancity*Valiz

Created on 29 August 2016

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