UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


4-year PhD Studentship in Climate Responsive Building Design

19 May 2020

UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering in partnership with FCBS are seeking applications for a fully funded Studentship in Climate Responsive Building Design

Modern green building

This PhD studentship in Climate Responsive Building Design is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the EPSRC-SFI Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE CDT) and co-funded by FCBS.

The PhD will focus on developing climate responsive building design hierarchies of strategic decision making to suit different climatic zones, to identify the relative impacts of design and operational decisions in relation to seasonal and diurnal variations in sunlight, temperature, air movement, and precipitation. Integration of energy flexibility in early building design stages will be considered.

Industry Sponsor

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) is an architectural and urban design practice with an international reputation for design quality, pioneering environmental expertise and a progressive architectural approach. They have won the RIBA Stirling Prize for Accordia, a scheme which is widely regarded as setting a new benchmark for housing in the UK.

FCBStudios believe that design is about a contemporary response to people and place and, at its best, should be progressive and transformative. The face of architecture is changing, and FCBS continue to pioneer radical and inclusive ways in which they create buildings. Their R&D activities are steadily becoming an integral part of their business to prepare for the future, underpinning their designs to ensure future resilience.


Professor Dejan Mumovic, UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


The studentship will cover UK course fees and an enhanced tax-free stipend of approx. £18,000 per year for 4 years along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities. Applicants should meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria.


4 years from September 2020


The mechanical servicing of buildings is a relatively recent phenomenon, with its origins only beginning at the start of the 20th Century. For thousands of years before then buildings had to modify the prevailing climate using only passive or low energy systems. It is not surprising that many of the building design issues relating to climate change resonate with elements found in the vernacular architecture and urban layouts of other countries. Features such as courtyards, wind catchers, narrow streets, green roofs, water features and houses raised on stilts all reflect a response to the contemporary local climate. It is too simplistic to say that since temperatures in London may one day resemble those already existing in, say, Lisbon then a linear design extrapolation can be implemented. The most obvious climatic difference is the different range of solar altitudes resulting from differences in latitude, but there are also cultural and historical traditions to respect. However, it is also true that there are lessons relevant to climate change to be learnt from vernacular architecture as it offers an historical perspective on how, globally, built environments evolved to deal with the challenges of changing climates.

Studentship aims

In the face of the climate emergency there is an imperative to develop simple advisory tools for design teams across the world to encourage appropriate decision making to address impacts of the construction, maintenance, operation, and end of use of buildings relating to climate change: energy, carbon, water and biodiversity. This PhD will focus on developing hierarchies of strategic decision making to suit different climatic zones, to identify the relative impacts of design and operational decisions in relation to seasonal and diurnal variations in sunlight; temperature; air movement; humidity rain and snow. The multi method approach will include: a) questionnaires aimed at relevant building design stakeholders, b) building performance modelling, and c) multi criteria decision making analysis (MCDA) workshops to support the development of the advisory tools. The building performance modelling will include use of both case studies and building archetypes.

The work will aim to provide guidance on the relevance and timing of decision making through the design and building operation process to address the key issues, with the aim of informing building clients, design teams, and users of the most important factors affecting, and affected by, these impacts in their location. The work will also identify common design approaches to suit aspects of climate categories (eg the Koppen Climate categorisation) which are independent of, and cross, country boundaries.

Person specification

Design is fundamental to engineering practice, and therefore should be a motivating factor in engineering doctorates. We are looking for a creative graduate engineer or physicist with an interest in architectural design. Applicants should have a Master level degree (MEng or MSc required), in one of the following subjects: Engineering, Physics.

How to apply

Please submit a pre-application by email to the UCL ERBE Centre Manager (bseer.erbecdt@ucl.ac.uk) with Subject Reference: 4-year PhD Studentship in Climate Responsive Building Design

The application should include the following:

  • A covering letter clearly stating your motivation, and stating your understanding of eligibility according to these guidelines: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/
  • CV
  • Names and addresses of two academic referees
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s)

Deadline for applications: Sunday 28 June 2020 @23:59 (UK time)
Interviews week commencing: TBC

Interview process

The interview panel will consist of the project’s academic supervisor at UCL, a representative of the industrial sponsor and a representative of the ERBE CDT Academic management. Only shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview.

Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. For further details about the admission process, please contact: bseer.erbecdt@ucl.ac.uk

For any further details regarding the project, contact Professor Dejan Mumovic on d.mumovic@ucl.ac.uk

You will be undertaking this project in UCL at the main (Bloomsbury) campus as part of the new EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE CDT). This is a collaboration between UCL, Loughborough University and Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI).