Circular Economy of Timber Buildings

Generator fund

Awarded: April 2022

Community Leads:

University of Bath: Will Hawkins, Andrew Shea, Daniel Maskell, Pete Walker
University of Bristol: Eleni Toumpanaki (PI)
Cardiff University: Steve Coombs, Tristram Hales
University of Exeter: Anna Harper

Project overview

A cradle-to-cradle and multidisciplinary approach for affordable timber housing in the UK.



The benefits of biogenic carbon storage together with a renewable supply chain mean that greater use of timber, and other plant-based materials, in construction is essential if the UK is to meet its net zero carbon targets by 2050. Our GW4 interdisciplinary research community will investigate the full potential of British-grown timber in the design of affordable and low-energy housing exploring current and future trends (e.g., climate change) in a systems thinking approach bringing together significant expertise in strategic areas such as forestry, architecture, timber engineering, building physics and circular economy.

Project summary

The community ran two workshops which strengthened collaborations between the GW4 researchers and initiated collaborations with external partners and key stakeholders. Workshop one was used to identify overlapping research interests, define key research questions and plan a set of student research internships. The results of these pilot research projects were presented at Workshop two, and the community developed these into research proposals, resulting in a AHRC bid. Academic visits across GW4 institutions have helped build relationships, and the community hope to continue the student research internship scheme for collaborative pilot projects in the following years.

The community also ran an open design competition, entitled ‘Reimagine a future built environment with UK timber’. As well as a cash prize, the three winners were invited to give GW4 seminars. The community continue to engage with the winners and hope to support future work on the designs presented.


Community site (GW4 Portal)