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Strategies for sustainable and resilient structural design: exploring the longevity of building skeletons

Tutor(s) Lennert Loos
Campus BXL/Ghent
Language EN/NL
Studio or individual? Individual
Max number of students? 5


Description of the master thesis:

The structural design of buildings plays a critical role in their long-term sustainability and resilience. However, there is often limited attention given to assessing the sustainability of the primary structure, which serves as the enduring skeleton of a building, often mostly remaining unchanged until the building is eventually demolished. When the structural layout is deemed inadequate for meeting design requirements, buildings are frequently demolished instead of exploring possibilities for modification. This master thesis proposal aims to address this gap by focusing on the capability of buildings to withstand the test of time. Students with a keen interest in structural design will have the opportunity to delve into this essential aspect of sustainable architecture. The specific subject of the thesis will be determined in consultation with the student, allowing for individual interests and areas of focus to be incorporated into the research. Three potential research topics might be:

  • Assessment of future scenarios: Explore methods to anticipate structural modifications in response to changing occupancy, function, or environmental conditions while maintaining the integrity and performance of the building’s primary structure.
  • Designing for flexibility: Investigate strategies for creating structurally flexible systems that minimize extensive modifications when evolving needs arise, employing generic design approaches to accommodate potential future uses and functional requirements.
  • Compare and analyze the trade-offs between optimal minimal material design and robust design strategies, optimizing structural systems to use minimal materials while ensuring resilience against various loads and hazards.

The research will combine classical research methods with design-specific approaches to provide comprehensive insights and practical solutions. Through this exploration, students will contribute to the advancement of sustainable architectural practices, ensuring that buildings’ primary structures endure and adapt to meet the challenges of the future.

Contact lennert.loos@kuleuven.be for more information

Expected output:

  • A manuscript that discusses a literature study, the research that has been performed, and the conclusions of the research
  • A few structural building layouts as case studies that are assessed on their sustainable characteristics
  • (possibly linked with a design studio)


Skills and interests

  • Structural design and theory
  • Sustainability of the built environment
  • Parametric design and digital design tools