PhD Position for Biofabrication and Bioconstruction of Regenerative Architecture
Catholic University of Leuven Department of Architecture
Belgium

This exciting inter-disciplinary PhD position will be hosted by the Research Groups of Architectural Engineering and Regenerative Architecture, Arts & Design at the Department of Architecture at KU Leuven. The Department brings together researchers from the Faculty of Engineering Science and the Faculty of Architecture with offices in Leuven, Brussels and Ghent. With over 40 full time professors, 30 guest professors, 14 postdoc and 180 other researchers, this is Flanders’ largest research department in the field of Architecture. The department is part of the Science, Engineering and Technology Group, also including Earth and Environmental Science, Materials Engineering, Biology, Biosystems, Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Microbial and molecular systems. The new Bio-Science Center is currently erected on Campus Arenberg, the historic heart of the group. This new construction with a total area of 27,000 m² will bring together more than 500 full time researchers in field of Biotechnology, Biology, Bio-chemistry, Bio-Physics and other Departments. By 2026 the Bio Science center will be a beacon for inter-disciplinary, international research in field of Biotechnology.

Project

Within an exceptional inter-disciplinary environment, the Lab aims to explore materiality and hybrid construction systems through co-design and co-fabrication with microorganisms and performing vegetation within the context of a circular bioeconomy. Outcome of the applied, research program will be tested and scalable processes, prototypes and projects for Bio-Fabrication, Bio-Assembly, Bio-Repair and Bio-Disassembly of building components and building systems for a regenerative design practice. By 2026 the Lab will become an integrated part of the new Bio-Science Centre at Arenberg Campus in Leuven.

The overall goal of the BioConstuctionLab is to systematically explore, prototype, test and demonstrate the principal aesthetic, ecological and performing potentials of bio-fabrication for design and construction in context of regenerative architecture and circular bioeconomy. A particular focus is on building skins at the interface of macro- and microclimates and natural and urban ecosystems respectively. The Lab aims to synthesize a deep understanding of biofabrication with respect to materials, growth processes, digital fabrication, and engineering principles to develop a new bio-construction methodology. A design driven cross-discipline collaboration with (micro)biologists, material scientists, engineers and experts in digital fabrication is seen as a key enabler to achieve this.

This PhD Project should establish a common ground for Biofabrication and Bioconstruction by developing, testing and evaluating design strategies, materials, systems and prototypes. The key question that this project should answer is how biological classes and processes relate to engineering functions, construction methodologies and regenerative outcomes.

The project should therefore explore interdependencies of the following main aspects:

  • Materials and value chains: Bio-based and mineral (waste) substrates for new, circular material ecology
  • Agents: Micro-organisms for bio-fabrication for new engineered functionalities
  • Technologies and Processes: New protocols for growth cultivation in a digital bio-fabrication Lab
  • Hybrid Components and Systems: New tectonics and tools to drive synthesis of spatial gestures and structures   

Profile

The successful candidate will play an integral part in developing the BioConstuctionLab at Department of Architecture. The position offers the chance to become a frontrunner in the field of regenerative architecture while immersing yourself in a cutting-edge research topic at interface of architecture, engineering and biology and gaining international exposure as an expert in the field. We are open to candidates from a diverse set of backgrounds as long as they bring the right skills and fit our culture of exploration and excellence. If you recognize yourself in the profile below, we would be delighted receiving your application asap:

  • Designer, Architect or engineer with holistic mindset
  • Hold a master’s degree with distinction in a relevant discipline
  • Emerging interest in working with living organisms, biotechnology and bio-design
  • Solid technical understanding in at least two of the following fields:
    • Bio-based building materials
    • Building Envelopes & Facades
    • Structural Design
    • Additive Manufacturing / Digital Fabrication
    • Making, Prototyping and Testing
  • Developed digital skills in design, modelling and visualization

  • Self-motivated with high degree of self-organization

  • Ability and enthusiasm to drive collaboration
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Experience in working in a multi-stakeholder international environment is a plus
  • High proficiency (C1/C2) in English is a prerequisite
  • Applicants should have the right to work in the EU

Offer

As a PhD candidate you would have the opportunity to pursue your professional development in a stimulating, international and inter-disciplinary research environment, with 4 years of funding. As a member of the Arenberg Doctoral School at KU Leuven you will receive next to a competitive remuneration and benefit package a workplace in a country with a good quality of life and excellent health care system. Benefits include:

  • End-of-year bonus
  • Holiday bonus
  • Ecocheques
  • Exceptional holiday arrangement on top of the statutory holiday entitlement
  • Hospital insurance
  • Bicycle allowance

As a PhD Researcher, you will be expected to do the following:

  • Carry out research to highest scientific standards, including both theoretical and experimental work
  • Engage with stakeholders in industry to understand challenges in practice and identify needs for applied research and innovation pathways
  • Pro-actively collaborate with colleagues at KU Leuven and beyond to establish an integrated inter-disciplinary research basis and foster partnerships and networks
  • Support teaching activities related to research field at bachelor’s and master’s degree, such as facilitation of workshops, preparation and delivery of lectures and tutorials as part of Design Studios (not exceeding 20% of your time).
  • Support ongoing development and operation of the Lab
  • Active participation in science community with one peer reviewed research paper and one presentation at an international conference per year
  • Support approx. one grant application per year in related field
  • Showcase outcomes of your PhD project by organizing an exhibition or conference
  • Oversee student assistants and support their development
  • Spend at least 50% of your time on campus

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jan Wurm, mail: jan.wurm@kuleuven.be.

Please submit the following:

·       Motivation letter incl. a max. 500-word abstract of a possible research project within the context described above

·       Curriculum Vitae

·       Examples of your work and link to your website or online portfolio if applicable

·       An outline of your proposed PhD research in line with this vacancy

·       Contact details of at least two references or two recommendation letters

·       Transcript of the grades (if applicable)

·       Proof of English proficiency

·       Copy of your finished Master’s degree with distinction

All applications submitted before 9th of January 2023 will be given full consideration. After that, the position will remain open until filled. The starting date will be agreed upon between candidate and supervisor, but the aim is to start in March 2023.

You can apply for this job no later than January 30, 2023 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven/Brussel
  • Apply before: January 30, 2023
  • Tags: Architectuur
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