PhD cand. AI-supported CO2-low circular design

PhD cand. AI-supported CO2-low circular design

Published Deadline Location
13 Mar 9 Apr Delft

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Challenge: Develop an AI-supported decision model for circular designChange: Reuse of existing buildings and materials deployedImpact: Enhance approaches to circularity in architecture

Job description

This PhD project will enhance approaches to circularity in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry by developing an AI-supported decision model for evaluating reuse possibilities of existing buildings and the materials deployed in them.

The largest stock of building materials available for circular means is the collection of existing buildings. As they represent a vast amount of embodied energy, repairing, re-programming, transforming, extending, reconfiguring them becomes the prime design assignment. But doing so quite often requires new material and energy consumption. Furthermore, in between full preservation and turning demolition into waste, other options are available: components can be salvaged, materials can be reprocessed and recycled in a variety of ways. Hence, the challenge is to identify the most CO2-low approach.

This PhD project will be supervised by a team of experts in AI, components and materials processing, and architectural design, all joined in their interest in addressing CO2-low design for circular buildings, components, and materials. In this context, AI is employed as means to improve various aspects of the overall design based on material-, energy- and process-related considerations.

The overall goal of this PhD project is to develop a decision-making model that helps identify which approach or combination of approaches is most CO2-neutral in a certain context. Three primary circular approaches towards the existing building stock are identified:

  1. Keep, repair, transform, reuse existing buildings to safeguard embodied energy, while meeting current requirements may involve more or less significant deployment of new material and energy.
  2. Disassemble entire buildings or parts of them into components fit for reuse elsewhere, with the same shape and material characteristics as they initially had during their previous use.
  3. Process recovered materials into new engineered products using advanced reprocessing techniques.

Each one of these approaches balances embodied and added energy in different ways. Evaluating these balances in order to facilitate decision-making regarding what to keep, reuse, and/ or reprocess requires data collection and AI-supported processing. Such an AI-supported decision-making approach is of particular relevance for today’s practice, as decisions at present, are made mainly based on practical considerations. No systematic comparative studies have been made yet and no decision-making model is in place

The proposed AI-supported decision-making model aims to do that by investigating a series of case studies, developing a model in the lab and then testing it outside the lab, in a relevant environment i.e., a construction site.

Proposed research will be implemented by a PhD cand. (TBD) with background in architecture involving circular and data-driven approaches under the supervision of a team consisting of Paul Vermeulen, Henriette Bier (co-/promoters), and a PostDoc (TBD).


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


To be considered for this position you will have:

  • Completed an MSc degree in Architecture or related disciplines that supports the proposed research objectives.
  • Background in circular and data driven approaches in architecture or related disciplines.
  • An excellent command of spoken and written English and good communication skills.
  • Willingness to work in a team, excellent study results, and academic writing skills are regarded as assets.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Adviceto assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Architecture & the Built Environment

The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment has a leading role in education and research worldwide. The driving force behind the faculty’s success is its robust research profile combined with the energy and creativity of its student body and academic community. It is buzzing with energy from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Our faculty has a strong focus on 'design-oriented research’, which has given it a top position in world rankings.

Staff and students are working to improve the built environment with the help of a broad set of disciplines, including architectural design, urban planning, building technology, social sciences, process management, and geo-information science. The faculty works closely with other faculties, universities, private parties, and the public sector, and has an extensive network in the Netherlands as well as internationally.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03629


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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