CIRCULAR ECONOMY – Creative reuse, adding authenticity to office design

14 March 2017

SBN’s Circular Economy Model Office (CEMO) project is gaining traction. We speak to some of the businesses getting results from utilising one of the key CEMO principles – maximising the reuse of materials.

CEMO is a process developed by industry to help design out waste in commercial refurbishments and builds. It is founded on circular economy principles. A circular economy is one where the lifecycle of materials is maximised, usage optimised and at the end of life all materials are re-utilised. The circular economy approach offers a powerful framework for making industrialised life sustainable worldwide.

So how does this look on the ground?

Kevin Russ is Creative Director at Creative Spaces which successfully incorporated the creative reuse of materials into the new Cerebos Greggs office in Auckland.

Kevin says: “The process provided the office space with real provenance and an authentic back story. It is loved by the staff working there. This approach provides clear connection to the heritage of the company and communicates the importance of this aspect to the company and its values.”

This is exemplified by such examples as Kauri floorboards from the original Cerebos Greggs factory in Dunedin being reused as frontage for the reception desk.

Cerebos Greggs, Auckland. Designed by Creative Spaces – repurposed original floorboards from Cerebos Greggs factory in Dunedin as reception desk frontage.

Also heritage doors from the previous tenants’ boardroom have been reused as a sliding wall and as feature wall panels. This references the legacy of the building they have moved into.

Cerebos Greggs by creative spaces

Kevin says: “These and other features combine to provide the space with a very unique vibe, something that couldn’t be achieved with a standard ‘vanilla’ fit out.”

Cerebos Greggs, Auckland. Designed by Creative Spaces – onsite repurpose of kauri doors from previous occupants Boardroom as feature panelling. CEMO compliant Interface carpet tiles.

Buffie Mawhinney from Ranui Community Centre has also recently utilised CEMO principles. They were applied in the refurbishment of Café Korero, the social enterprise arm of the Centre. More than 700 linear metres of framing timber were reused for refurbished walls. The design also used the original nails from the framing to recreate the Café logo. And small amounts of native timber from the original café as frontage for planters.

Inside Cafe Wall made of nails[5728]

“These features and the history and work that lie behind them are hugely appreciated by both staff and customers,” says Buffie. “Staff were involved in the whole process. They have a real sense of ownership of the finished café. Customers enjoy hearing about all the innovations, creatively reusing materials that would normally go to landfill.”

How you can do this in your next fit out

Kevin says coming up with ideas for creative reuse in fit-outs is the relatively easy bit. Actually making them come to fruition in a way that enhances the project is harder.

To make the reuse innovations real the client and all contractors need to be meaningfully involved in the project. There needs to be a clear, carefully managed process. It begins with identifying appropriate reuse opportunities and managing the next steps from careful deconstruction and storage, through to final installation.

James Griffin leads the circular economy work at the SBN and the CEMO Project.

The CEMO Guide we have produced is ideal for guiding you through this process. It outlines the key steps for a successful commercial refurbishment. This minimises waste and maximises a sense of provenance. Give this a try! It can bind your brand and purpose into your physical surroundings in really stunning ways.”

Download the CEMO Guide here. Contact for more information. Or talk directly to about your office refurbishment.