Photo of Catherine De Wolf

Energy & sustainability

Catherine De Wolf

Assistant Professor & Chair of Circular Engineering for Architecture (CEA) at ETH Zürich

Catherine De Wolf is an Assistant Professor of Circular Engineering for Architecture and the director of the Chair of Circular Engineering for Architecture (CEA) at ETH Zurich. Her work uses digital innovations, such as computational design algorithms and AI, to move the built environment towards a circular economy.

The building industry continues to be a growth sector but one that is actively depleting resources, generating waste and emitting greenhouse gases at a tremendous scale and speed. There is an urgent need to shift from a linear take-make-waste model to a circular model where resources are prevented from becoming waste.

The DEQO database, created by de Wolf, traces material stocks and the environmental impacts of hundreds of buildings worldwide whilst her knowledge sharing and network platform, DICE lab, connects stakeholders of the digital circular economy. With these platforms she has developed a circular construction digital ecosystem for the matchmaking of people, projects, and products for fostering building material reuse.

This digital ecosystem uses AI to identify patterns of reuse in buildings and LiDAR scans buildings set for demolition to develop algorithms for designing with these available materials, and finally, digitally re-fabricate them.

She collaborates with bodies such as the European Commission and industry, working on large projects such as facilitating the reuse of glass from the Centre Pompidou in Paris.