UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Fully funded PhD studentship: how the built environment can learn from how it is used

16 May 2018

UCL IEDE invites applications for a fully funded 3-year PhD studentship in Agile Architecture: How the built environment can learn from how it is used



  • Title: Agile Architecture: How the built environment can learn from how it is used.
  • Supervisors: Dr Jemima Unwin, Lecturer in Light and Lighting, others in supervision team to be
  • confirmed at a later date.
  • Stipend: approx. £16,775 & UK/EU fees & annual research budget of £1200 /yr, and you will also
  • be able to apply for additional funding to UCL schemes to cover extra costs of training and travel
  • Start Day: September/October 2018
  • Funding Duration: 3 years
  • Eligibility: Candidates must be either UK residents or EU residents who have been living in the UK
  • for 3 years prior to the course commencing. Please check EPSRC guidelines on student eligibility here: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/

The UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering invites applications for a fully funded (UK/EU fees plus stipend) 3-year PhD studentship funded by EPSRC.
Subject to terms.


The aim of this project is to establish a fuller form of Post-occupancy Evaluation (POE) based on quantitative information on the way people use a building coupled with information given by building users. This will be used to inform building design and operation, including building service design. This study will focus on the key areas of daylight, lighting controls and how the outcomes of the learning process can be integrated into architectural practice and building management.

Using a Later Living project designed for older residents as a case study, the aims will be met by the following objectives:

  • Complete an investigation of how connected sensor data can be exploited to produce buildings which adapt to people’s needs whilst driving efficiencies and cost savings.
  • Develop an interactive POE tool where people can give feedback of their experience of a building as they use it. Use this to establish useful data collection and management strategies.
  • Examine how an architectural practice can integrate the above research outcomes into everyday practice and test means of doing this.

A flexible tool to identify what people value in a building. For example: control over surroundings; daylight qualities; static or dynamic lighting controls; interaction with others.
• An analysis of how people use space in relation to daylight and electric lighting. Communication of findings regarding comfortable levels and the amount of control used and appreciated.
• Definition of a viable means of embedding user feedback in future projects.
Who will benefit from the project:
• The client, who will have a better asset. This is partly due to a defined Handover Strategy, which includes ongoing post-occupancy evaluation and review of project performance. Clients own the data generated, however can be guided by researchers and architects on how it can be used to add value to the user experience of the building in the long term.
• Architects and designers, in establishing purpose driven BIM, which continues whilst a building is in use (a requirement of the RIBA Plan of Work, Stage 7). This sets the scene for the incorporation of Stage 7 in BIM level 3 and can also be used as a learning tool across projects.
• Users of buildings, as the experience of the building is improved through the use of technology and digital data-sharing.


In your PhD you will be expected to firstly complete a literature review and establish methodologies to achieve the above.This will involve defining what people want through observational behavioural studies which give them personalised lighting control and the option to move freely. Ideally this would take place in a real environment as a case study, or the multi-sensory space at Here East. You would be expected to examine useful and convenient forms of feedback, which encourage engagement and give designers an indication of how happy people are with the spaces provided, including the function of the services, including lighting. The project will require the establishment of a set of design parameters against which the performance of spaces can be understood and quantified. To undertake this research you will be required to undertake statistical analysis of behaviour patterns.This research project will give you the opportunity to conduct important research on how buildings are used during the day and at night. This information can be used to design strategies to improve lighting and building service design. Collectively the results will describe how lighting and other service design can improve buildings, by enabling designers to make decisions which respond to people’s needs. The project will require spending three months with an industrial partner.

Person specification:

Passionate about data analysis and conducting research using a range of quantitative and
qualitative methods
• An MSc degree in light and lighting, engineering, architecture, statistics or other data analysis discipline.
• Interest in the built environment, environmental issues, energy, lighting design and engineering solutions.
• Willingness to acquire relevant software skills
• Ability to understand and interpret complex relationships such as that between human
behaviour and the visual scene and clearly communicate the results to a non-scientific
• Ability to use own initiative and prioritise workload
• Good interpersonal and communication skills (oral and written)
• A high level of attention to detail in working methods
• Ability to liaise directly with project partners such as local authorities and engineering

Application procedure:

A two-stage application procedure is in place.
Stage 1. Pre-application documents - (1) CV, (2) academic transcripts, and (3) 1-page personal statement outlining motivation, interest and eligibility for the post - should be emailed directly to Teresa Dawkins (bseer-phd-admin@ucl.ac.uk and Dr Jemima Unwin (jemima.unwin@ucl.ac.uk).
Stage 2. Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal
application to the UCL Research Degree programme. Further guidance will be provided.
Any offer made will be subject to references and proof of meeting the UCL English language requirements.
Informal enquiries on the content of the research topic should be emailed to Dr Jemima Unwin (jemima.unwin@ucl.ac.uk).

Deadline for application: 4 June 2018

Interviews week starting: 12 June 2018