Scenario planning

Include uncertainties in the building design by integrating adaptable elements in the right places.

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What are scenarios?

Scenarios are stories, exploring imaginable but divergent futures. Scenarios relate easily to architecture as they help to show how a building might change over time.

Why creating scenarios?

When designing for circularity, there is a lot of uncertainty linked to defining the lifecycle of buildings, the degree of adaptability, and the end of life. Anticipating different possible scenarios for a building helps to look forward in time to evaluate the long-term advantages of the building design and to make better-informed decisions. 

How can I build scenarios?

Six steps are worked out to guide you in applying scenario planning to your building design. Preferably this exercise is done at the beginning of the design process, but it can be done as a learning lesson as well.



Download the scenario planning worksheets.


What triggers change? Define and list the known and unknown drivers for change. Write the drivers down in the green boxes.

Rank the drivers by criticality. 1 is most critical, the lowest number is least critical. The numbers can be written in the grey boxes.


Select the most important drivers. Draw a matrix based on the selected unknown drivers.


Fill in the matrix.


Decide which scenarios you will take into account.


Design for each selected scenario. Compare the different designs to each other.


Decide which adaptable, generic or durable elements will be integrated in the final design.

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Worksheet Scenario Planning 18112.jpg


Scenario planning worksheets

(in Dutch)




Estimated duration: 2 hours

For who? Design team and/or the client

Knowledge needed? Basic knowledge about circular building is recommended.

Design phase: Preferably at the beginning of the design process, or it can be used as a reflection on the design as well

Materials needed: The worksheets, basic information about the building project, pens, and blanc paper

More information and sources

Scenario developing for life cycle design and analyses - Galle W. and De Temmerman N. Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Circular Retrofit Lab: Full renovation of prefabricated student housing modules for multiple uses - Buildings as material banks (BAMB)