Trust in circular design: active stakeholder participation in Chinese and Dutch housing retrofit projects

Frank J. de Feijter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Collaboration from multiple stakeholders is a prerequisite to achieve the different goals of a circular economy in the built environment. Gaining the trust of passive householders is a critical factor in housing retrofit at the neighbourhood level, given the aims of the circular economy related to sustainable supply chains, production processes and consumption patterns. Building on notions of trust in expert systems, this paper explores the active roles of providers and householders in personal, technological and institutional trust and whether this can help to implement user-centred circular design approaches in housing retrofit. This study draws on empirical data from Beijing (China) and Amsterdam (the Netherlands). The paper suggests that the active use of providers’ and householders’ interacting roles at so-called access points in the housing retrofit process could link the practices of households to the different goals of a circular built environment. Building personal trust between constructors, installers, and policymakers as retrofit providers and active householders can contribute to the shared ownership of retrofit housing projects. Enhancing trust in the principles of retrofit packages supports technology optimization through joined product validation via social interactions. Maintaining trust relations that last beyond the retrofit project duration will contribute to future-proof communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-118
JournalBuilding Research and Information
Issue number1
Early online date19 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • China
  • circular design
  • circular economy
  • housing retrofit
  • the Netherlands
  • Trust


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