PhD position on interactive architecture / robotic furniture

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
October 20, 2022
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PhD position on interactive architecture / robotic furniture

(ref. BAP-2022-665)

Last modification : Thursday, September 22, 2022

A new interdisciplinary research project at KU Leuven welcomes applications for three fully funded, 4-year PhD positions. Although we expect each PhD student to work across their native discipline, we seek expertise from the disciplines of human-building interaction / interactive architecture, robotic control and occupational wellbeing. The architectural PhD position will be supervised from the research group ResearchxDesign (RxD) at the Department of Architecture at KU Leuven university. The group around prof. Andrew Vande Moere conducts design-oriented research on the potential of emerging technologies, among which adaptive architecture, robotics and human- building interaction. Check other KU Leuven vacatures or contact the respective professors for the other two open PhD positions.

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Project

The current post-pandemic office is unable to fulfill the needs of workers, who expect their workspace to establish a shared social culture, support team activities and provide shelter for focused work. Although a typical office space provides the environment, infrastructure and equipment that could accommodate these needs, they are not flexibly used because the presence and activities of workers have become too unpredictable to facilitate for.

The project envisions a fully responsive workplace that adapts, learns and grows with its users. It will develop robotic furniture that can dynamically adapt the architectural layout to the individual and communal wellbeing of the workers. For instance, in this workplace, interior partitions could semi- autonomously move in order to facilitate certain work activities, optimize environmental conditions or nudge social interactions between workers.

Investigating such a workplace can only be achieved by the close collaboration of three different disciplines: architecture, robotics and occupational health. The architectural research will focus on how spatial adaptation can be used to increase human wellbeing and nudge behavior. The robotic research will develop the robotic furniture and investigate a reasoning system that allows it to make situationally aware decisions in a relatively unpredictable physical environment. The occupational health innovation will comprise measuring the psychological and social wellbeing effects in interaction with architectural layout that respects the preferences of multiple individuals that share the same space. of these innovations can yet be achieved by a single discipline.

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The three PhD students are expected to continuously collaborate with one another, and thus collectively conduct their research beyond their native discipline. This means that an ideal candidate has particular skills or appreciation for the other disciplines.

The PhD position in human-building interaction / interactive architecture is suitable for someone who can demonstrate a degree or skills in one or more of the following subdomains:

  • human-computer interaction (e.g. user-centered design, co-design, empirical evaluation studies)

  • architectural design science (e.g. parametric design, modelling, simulation)

  • physical computing (e.g. electronic or robotic prototyping) and/or software programming

  • good scientific writing and communication skills

  • Short-listed candidates will be asked to fulfil concise assignments to further test their proficiency.

    Offer

    This project offers a “blue-sky” research environment, characterized by several “high-risk high-gain” goals. It gives the opportunity to acquire research and innovation skills that are essential for a future career in academic research, with the obvious potential towards an industrial start-up.

    Each PhD student will be involved in assisting in bachelor or master-level courses, as well as other smaller duties such as proctoring during exams or helping out with departmental activities, which are distributed among all academic staff. These duties will not exceed 20% of the working time.

    All applications submitted before the 9th of October 2022 will be given full consideration. After that, the positions will remain open until filled. The starting date will be agreed upon between candidate and supervisor, but the aim is to start on December 1, 2022. The scholarship offers a competitive salary (see working conditions → salary below) and travel funding, and consists of 2 periods of around 24 months, with a probation period at the start.

    Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. Andrew Vande Moere, mail: andrew.vandemoere@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir. Herman Bruyninckx, mail: herman.bruyninckx@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Lode Godderis, mail: lode.godderis@kuleuven.be

    A complete application includes:

  • a detailed CV

  • a letter of motivation that makes reference to one (or more) of the three disciplinary focuses

  • transcripts with grades of MSc/BSc courses

  • names and contact details of at least two references

  • a max. 500-word abstract of a possible research plan within the context of the project described above

  • optional: a portfolio documenting practical evidence of required skills or knowledge

  • 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.

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