Exploring the material stock – urban form nexus for urban sustainability

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Chalmers University of Technology


Are you interested in sustainability of the urban built environment? We offer a PhD position that will allow to deepen your knowledge and actively develop new understandings of the role that urban morphology plays on the type and quantities of resources accumulated in the built environment – and their compounded environmental impacts.

Project description
The position is part of the Sustainable building Research group and in close collaboration with the Spatial Morphology Group, both at the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE). The Sustainable building Research group deals with concepts, tools, and strategies to enhance the sustainability performance of construction materials, building products, road infrastructures, and entire cities. Research methods range from sustainability assessments to social-cultural and climate-adapted design concepts, including energy- and material resource-based building stock modeling and its visualization. The Spatial Morphology Group is engaged in the fields of urban morphology, space syntax and urban analytics. The group has a long experience in developing methods to describe and measure the built environment with the aim to better understand the processes it allows or affords. This provides knowledge on how, through design, the built environment can help to achieve the global sustainable development goals, e.g., promote sustainable mobility, increase biodiversity, and reduce segregation.

As the built environment continuously grows, so does the accumulation of materials in buildings and infrastructures. This has dramatic environmental impacts: resource extraction and waste generation are ever-increasing, and turning resources into buildings and infrastructures stands for 11% of global carbon emissions. A better understanding of the role that urban planning – more specifically urban morphology – plays on the type and quantity of materials accumulated in the built environment is key to minimize environmental impacts linked to urban development. At the same time, the built environment should provide its intended functions that contribute to human well-being. This PhD position requires a systems perspective to include, understand, and analyze interrelations between built environment material stocks, morphological types (e.g., buildings, roads), their spatial characteristics, the function they provide (e.g., shelter, transport), and socioeconomic and environmental implications of different urban forms. This project thus integrates two disciplines with a strong systems perspective tradition: built environment stock modeling and urban morphology.

Major responsibilities
The candidate is expected to independently review existing literature and approaches on both built environment stock modeling and urban morphology. Existing studies and data will provide a first understanding of relevant lines of inquiry. This includes, for example, developing scenarios of urban transformation that permits densification and creates walkable cities, and developing indicators that integrate both material stock and urban morphology aspects. Interdisciplinary collaboration with other PhD students and colleagues at Chalmers and at institutions abroad is very important. The position may include teaching or other departmental duties up to a maximum of 20%. The intended start of the project is September 2023.

You will be employed by Chalmers on a full-time temporary contract. The employment is limited to four years’ effective time on the PhD project, plus additional time spent on teaching and other departmental duties up to a maximum of five years. The employment is tied to successful progress of the doctoral studies, as evaluated throughout the project.

Applicants should have a master’s degree in architectural or civil engineering, urban planning, industrial ecology, environmental engineering, or another field relevant to the description of the project, with a strong interest in urban sustainability. We are seeking a self-motivated candidate with analytical and creative problem-solving skills, and experience in systems thinking. Previous expertise in environmental assessment (e.g., Material Stock Analysis, Material Flow Analysis, Life Cycle Assessment) are important, as well as excellent verbal and written communication skills in English. Important merits that will be considered include knowledge of digital methods and tools such as BIM and GIS for spatial analysis and mapping of urban environments including e.g., data processing, remote sensing, network modelling. Also, skills in statistical analysis such as clustering analysis, regression analysis, and/or ANOVA are meritorious.

You are expected to take initiatives, work independently when needed and take responsibility for your work. As the project is interdisciplinary at its core, you need to have significant collaborative skills. You also need to be able to disseminate results and knowledge within existing and new networks, includes academia, industry, and society at large.

Contract terms
Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five years.

We offer
Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the coastal city of Gothenburg .
Read more about working at Chalmers  and our benefits  for employees.

Chalmers aims to actively improve our gender balance. We work broadly with equality projects, for example the GENIE Initiative on gender equality for excellence . Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Application procedure
The application should be marked with Ref 20230285 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as PDF-files, as below. Maximum size for each file is 40 MB. Please note that the system does not support Zip files.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)
• CV
• Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.
• Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)
1-3 pages where you:
• Introduce yourself
• Describe your previous experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities)
• Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents:
• Copies of bachelor and/or master’s thesis.
• Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form

Application deadline: [2023-05-30]

For questions, please contact:
Assistant Professor Maud Lanau,
[email protected], 031-772 41 63

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