Faced with climate and affordability crises, Australia needs radical changes in housing production and consumption. The housing industry contributes significantly to global flows of carbon emissions and waste, and circularity is central to realising a post-carbon world. The transition to a circular economy from a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economy is a key area of academic, policy and industry investigation towards regenerative futures.

A wide array of interventions and instruments have already been identified by researchers and practitioners. Importantly, these extend beyond configuring markets and behaviours, and entail the co-creation and propagation of imaginaries, narratives and social institutions beyond normative regulatory instruments. It is vital to renew our thinking around housing, and what it might take to inhabit circularity. How does circular economy housing fit in a planetary commons, and what kinds of imaginaries can we deploy and practice towards hopeful housing futures?

We hosted a collective conversation on circular economy imaginaries that brought together built environment experts, policy-makers and housing industry practitioners. To provoke debate, we presented the AHURI Inquiry report Informing a strategy for circular economy housing in Australia and its associated graphic novel Building circular economy: An Australian story.

Paths towards circularity criss-cross regenerative building and construction practices, material reuse, plantation policies and housing retrofit cultures. Creative practice, experimentation and transdisciplinary collaboration variously promote social change and curating these efforts is continuously needed. The graphic novel work is brought into play here as a material prompt. It considered four key housing issues: neighbourhoods, apartments, social housing and building materials. By projecting the visual summary during the event, we offered real, tangible and relatable representations of circular economy principles as we explored them in our research.

This research was funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and led by RMIT University in 2021-2023. It was developed by researchers at the Centre for Urban Research in conjunction with project leads in universities across Australia.

Download slides from the event here.

Read more

Inquiry Final Report: Informing a circular economy housing strategy

Project A Final Report: Sustainable housing at a neighbourhood scale

Project B Final Report: Delivering sustainable apartment housing: new build and retrofit

Project C Final Report: Sustainable social housing: solutions for large-scale retrofit

Project D Final Report: Building materials in a circular economy

Find out more about Louise Dorignon, Ralph Horne and Julie Lawson.


RMIT University, Building 16 (Green Brain), Level 7, Room 007


10 August 2023