EventsMaterial Matters

Material Matters

Thomas Rau


Livestream vom
09 July
Foto von Thomas Rau



Our current way of doing business is a one-way road. A system based on „extracting, processing, using and discarding resources” has become disconnected from the fundamental law of life and earth – of things being finite. If we want to give ourselves and our planet a future, we need a real alternative to our exploitative society.



This is the precise starting point for Thomas Rau who presents a groundbreaking economic model where, for instance, consumers are no longer owners but users, waste is history and materials are vested with rights, while their identities are registered in an online library. He illustrates how finite resources hold the potential of infinite possibilities if we orchestrate their finiteness. Everyone benefits: consumers, producers and planet Earth.

Is this a utopia? Most certainly not. Thomas Rau not only claims that the circular economy model works, he also implements it. As a result, many construction products based on the economy’s new architecture have meanwhile been completed and won awards (lecture in German)

Thomas Rau

Thomas Rau won various awards: in 2013 he was elected Architect of the Year in the Netherlands. In addition, he won the ARC13 Oeuvre Award, honouring his substantial contribution to promoting and implementing sustainable architecture and circular building. His book Material Matters (Uhlstein Verlag), written together with his wife Sabine Oberhuber, is a bestselling book about Circular Economy.

In 2016, Thomas Rau was nominated for the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy Leadership Award. In 2017, he initiated the launch of «Madaster», a central national public register for real estate data on materials, a materials cadaster. Madaster is a public online platform for registration and documentation of materials and materials passports. In recognition of its potential for systemic transition, Madaster won the Digital Top 50 Award for Social Impact 2018 by Google, McKinsey and Rocket Internet.

The true challenge does not lie in climate change, but in changing our awareness.
Thomas Rau Architekt


Turntoo advises transforming companies that embrace responsibility for groundbreaking innovations. This includes pioneering circular economy projects, such as the development of a light-as-a-service model (circular lighting) for Philips Lighting or performance-based marketing of washing machines for Bosch.

Thomas Rau’s architectural firm RAU pioneered the implementation of innovative climate-neutral buildings with a 100% circulation potential. In 2013, RAU designed the first building to serve as a resource deposit in the municipality of Brummen and, in 2015, a climate-neutral building for the network operator Liander.

Projekt vonThomas Rau – Climate Innovation DistrictThomas Rau
The Netherlands, bird observatory; Foto: © Katja Effting
Projekt vonThomas Rau – Vogelbeobachtungsstation
The Netherlands, bird observatory; Foto: © Katja Effting
Thomas Rau im Gesprächzern Alliander Hauptverwaltung
Foto: © Astrid Eckert
Foto: © Astrid Eckert
Foto: © Astrid Eckert