Every Friday, Circulate rounds up a collection of interesting circular economy related stories and articles. This week, we’re highlighting stories on the latest and most innovative cradle-to-cradle designs, China’s co-living boom, what the cities of the future will look like and much more…

Design innovation is critical to the development of a circular economy that can be prosperous in the long-term. The cradle-to-cradle design approach is a leader in this area and the Cradle to Cradle Products Institute is aiming to spark new waves of innovation with a series of six challenges running between 2015 and 2017. The design challenges aim to help designers articulate resource limitation as an opportunity for product innovation. The most recent batch of products to meet the grade are worth checking out, they include banana stem fibre packaging, a self-sufficient compact mountain shelter, a modular shoe and more.

Co-living spaces are increasing in popularity across the U.S. and Europe along with other emerging sharing economy trends, but a recent Quartz piece points out that the idea of co-living for young professionals in large shared residence has already taken a firm hold in China, where startups like You+ claim to house over 10,000 people nationwide across 25 branches after receiving more than $20 million in venture capital funding. The average en-suite bedroom costs $300 per month to rent, but what’s interesting is that companies like You+ view shared residence as an opportunity to sell a range of services in the future, turning these venues into community hubs, as well as living spaces.

Ever wondered what our rapidly growing and expanding cities will look like in 2045? Futurist Ian Pearson has taken a shot at it for Tech Insider. Of course, these types of articles are mostly speculative fun, but it was interesting to note that solar energy coatings for buildings, smart heat and lighting that follow people around a room and the transformation of construction processes is given particular importance.

Just because something isn’t brand new, doesn’t mean that it isn’t innovative. We came across this video on the BIQ House, the first apartments to test the use of microalgae to create biomass energy – a fascinating example of the potential of circular economy applications in the built environment.

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