PhD student regenerative earth-based building materials

About the function

Due to the high amount of embodied energy in construction materials, the depletion of natural resources and the enormous waste generation, there is a growing need for regenerative building materials. Materials based on unfired earth, such as earth bricks, loam plasters or rammed earth, are fully circular and can make a significant contribution to the reduction of the material footprint and CO2 emissions of the construction sector. However, the application of earth-based materials in Western Europe is (still) quite limited. Architects and clients are often not familiar with materials based on unfired earth, and insights into user and designer experiences and preferences are lacking. This doctoral research project investigates the motives and barriers for choosing earth-based building materials. Besides technical and ecological material properties, the sensory experience (visual, tactile) and the perception, associations and emotions that a material evokes play a major role in material selection. Through research by design, opportunities for the application of earth-based materials are explored, based on the material-specific properties, the material experience and taking into account user preferences. The insights and design solutions developed should contribute to an increased uptake and application of earth-based building materials.

This doctoral project fits within the research line Sustainability. The aims of our research are to contribute to the scientific founding of sustainable architecture, and to support the decision-making process of architects and building owners towards more sustainable designs, especially with regard to use of natural resources. Contributing to a good life for all within the planetary boundaries is our mission, and we bring this into research practice by means of projects and PhDs on sustainable material use, circular economy, doughnut economics and (energy) sufficiency. Our research on sustainability is strongly embedded in the Building Beyond Borders platform (www.buildingbeyondborders.be).

About us

ArcK is the research group of the Faculty of Architecture and Arts that focuses on research in architecture and interior architecture. We conduct fundamental and applied research on the built environment. In a multidisciplinary team we work on important societal challenges, such as a purposeful and adaptive reuse of our heritage, the inclusion of diverse groups in spatial transformation processes, critical reflection on and contribution to the environmental impact of our built environment, inclusive design, design for wellbeing and experience,...These challenges are covered in 5 research domains:  ‘spatial capacity building’, ‘sustainability’,  ‘designing for more’, ‘Trace: heritage & adaptive reuse’ and ‘FRAME’.
More information: www.uhasselt.be/arck

About you

  • You obtained a Master of Architecture, Master of Engineering: structural engineering or Master of Engineering: architecture (or equivalent)
    Final-year students are (likewise) encouraged to apply.
  • You can work independently as well as interdisciplinary and as part of a team.
  • Your social skills allow you to work with professionals and individuals in the research process.
  • You can demonstrate the necessary research skills.
  • You report clearly and fluently, both orally and in writing, in English and preferably also in Dutch.
  • You have a feel for sustainable building and architecture, building materials and techniques, and design research, and/or a strong interest in expanding your expertise in these areas.
  • You are willing to take on some teaching assignments.

Our offer

You will be appointed and paid as PhD student.
Appointment of 2x2 years. Starting date from September 1st 2022.

Apply for this position

The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.
The interviews take place in the week of June 27th 2022.

Apply now
Apply up to 12.06.2022

Question about this vacancy?

For substantive questions, send an e-mail to elke.knapen@uhasselt.be. For questions about the selection procedure, please email jobs@uhasselt.be.

Prof. dr. ir. Elke KNAPEN

Function
Associate Professor