Spatial Design for Circularity - Exploring Spatial Aspects in Housing Design with Focus on the Kitchen
Licentiatavhandling, 2021

The building industry and especially multiresidential buildings are responsible for a large portion of environmental impact, energy use and resource exploitation. Hence, there is a need to shift towards more sustainable design solutions for such buildings, which might be achieved by adopting circular economy strategies. This thesis develops knowledge on how to formulate solutions for circular housing design by analysing problematics connected to one important function of dwellings, the kitchen. This part of the home is subject to frequent renovations and extensive material flows driven by regulations, design trends and end-user preferences. Previous research has investigated kitchen-related issues in connection with circularity, including resource use, furniture design or food waste. However, there has been little investigation in connection with the spatial design of kitchens despite earlier studies indicating the importance of spatial configurations to a sustainable built environment. Therefore, this Licentiate thesis explores the spatial design of the kitchen with the aim of increasing circularity in residential building design.
To understand the complex sociomaterial phenomenon regarding kitchens, this thesis reports on two studies. Study 1 examines the social agencies through investigating the value chain of kitchens. Taking a qualitative approach, this study aims to understand stakeholder perspectives on how kitchens are commissioned, designed, built, delivered, and installed. This is followed up by Study 2, which explores the material agencies by evaluating the adaptive capacities of 3,624 kitchens in contemporary apartments. The goal was to summarise current design strategies regarding kitchens and investigate the opportunities that adaptable spatial design presents to circular housing design.
The results showed that spatial design is one important factor in connection with circularity. In both studies, spatial qualities and characteristics were identified as enablers in achieving a circular housing design and built environment. The design of spatial characteristics, such as room size, room typology, kitchen typology, windows and infrastructures might enable more adaptability of dwellings which, in turn, would support less frequent, low-impact alterations of the room. The main contribution of this thesis is in recognising those spatial characteristics which are important to consider when creating a future circular kitchen design. These characteristics need to be detailed and it is important that upcoming studies further investigate end-user perspectives.
In conclusion, this thesis contributes to the ongoing development of a circular building industry by presenting knowledge on circular opportunities for the built environment and highlighting adaptable spatial design as an important factor in circular housing design.

spatial design

value proposition

circular economy




circular design

housing design

via Zoom - request password to the Zoom meeting at the following e-mail address:
Opponent: Urszula Kozminska, Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark


Anita Ollár

Chalmers, Arkitektur och samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Arkitekturens teori och metod

Foresights from the Swedish Kitchen: Four Circular Value Opportunities for the Built Environment

Sustainability,; Vol. 12(2020)

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift

Ollár, A., Granath, K., Femenías, P., & Rahe, U. Is there a need for a new kitchen design? Assessing the adaptative capacity of space as an enabler for circularity in multiresidential buildings

Det cirkulära köket

HSB Living Lab (457-HSB), 2018-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.

Climate-KIC, 2018-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.






Hållbar utveckling


Grundläggande vetenskaper


HSB living lab

Lic / Architecture and Civil Engineering / Chalmers University of Technology: 2021:1



via Zoom - request password to the Zoom meeting at the following e-mail address:


Opponent: Urszula Kozminska, Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark

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