PhD student research on Design for Circularity of Taller Wood Buildings in Belgium

About the function

The construction sector is one of the largest environmental polluters, producing large amounts of greenhouse gasses and solid waste, depleting natural resources and, thus, aggravating the climate crisis. In this context, there has been a growing interest in using lower-impact regenerative wood-based building materials. Additionally, circular practices implementation in construction offers yet another promising alternative to the established high-impact linear practices in the sector. Nevertheless, despite substantial advances in the last couple of decades, there are still critical challenges left to address regarding the use of wood in construction toward a more sustainable built environment and equitable future.

The narrative for the promotion of wood construction until now has primarily focused on the (now debatable) benefits of biogenic carbon neutrality, leaving a substantial knowledge gap concerning the end-of-life phase of still relatively young mass timber buildings. Nonetheless, responsible use of forest resources in construction must also account for a transition from linear to circular building practices. Hence, topics such as design for adaptability (extended lifespan), disassembly, and reuse are more critical than ever to assessing and improving life cycle environmental benefits of wood-based buildings. This research project investigates the possibilities and limitations of design for circularity and implementation of taller wood buildings (4 to 8 stories) in the Western Europe, with a predominant focus on Belgium. To tackle the challenges, the successful candidate can propose a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and research by design methods, such as supply-chain/market studies, stakeholder surveys, BIM, and lifecycle thinking and impact assessment (LCA), etc. In the end, the insights and solutions proposed in this research should contribute to an increased body of knowledge on the sustainable and circular aspects of wood-based constructions, leading to a more sustainable built environment and equitable society.

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 (

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:

About you

  • You hold a Master of Architecture, Master of Engineering: architecture, or Master of Engineering: construction degree. (or equivalent)
  • You can work independently as well as interdisciplinary and as part of a team and have fluent social skills to work with both professionals and individuals in the research process.
  • You can report clearly and fluently, both orally and in writing in English.
  • You are familiar with one or more of the following topics: sustainable architecture and construction, building materials and techniques, circular economy, life cycle thinking, wood construction, and architectural research methods. And you are interested in deepening your knowledge in these domains.
  • You can demonstrate the necessary research skills through a prior body of work on the topics, such as with your master thesis and published academic papers, clearly stated in the CV and/or uploaded with the application.
  • You are willing to take on teaching assignments to a limited extent.
  • Knowledge of Dutch language, or willingness to learn it is a plus.

Our offer

You will be appointed and paid as PhD student.
PhD scholarship for 2 x 2 years with intermediate evaluation.

Apply for this position

The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.
The interviews will take place in the week of 24 October 2022.

Apply now
Apply up to 09.10.2022

Question about this vacancy?

For substantive questions, send an e-mail to For questions about the selection procedure, please email


Tenure Track Assistant Professor