Building Design for Sustainability

​ACEX35​ Master’s thesis direction, 2020/2021​

Description of direction

Keywords: building adaptability, climate change, circular design, environment, global-local, low-impact design, systems thinking, resilience

Humanity stand in front of its largest challenge, to mitigate and stabilise the on-going climate change and environmental pollution. Radical changes are needed in the way we envision, organise, plan, design, transform, use and evaluate the built environment. Master thesis are welcome and supported that wish to contribute to these urgent transitions towards a sustainable and resilient future.

In this direction, you can explore new design as well as transformation of existing built environments as a means to support sustainable development and with the ambition to create values for humans and nature. A specific aim is to contribute with knowledge about how spatial concepts, architectural design, form, aesthetics and materiality as well as cultural identity can support long-term sustainable development.

Areas we encourage are circular design, low-impact design, sustainable and local materials, building transformation, design for resilience and socio-material relationships of the built environment. Knowledge of building tradition includes theories related to sustainability of the built environment such as regenerative design, resource optimisation, adaptive design, resilience, cradle-to-cradle, circularity, sharing economy based on life cycle thinking, systems thinking, co-creation of knowledge, visualisation and dialogue, (spatial) narratives, gaming, questionnaires, and interviews.

The direction emphasises the exchange between scientific and design research and collaboration with stakeholders in industry, the public sector and the civil society. Master thesis can range from theoretical explorations to design and co-creation and they can take advantage of on-going research projects and partner networks from all over the world.​


Brand, S. (1994). How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. London, UK: Viking.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015). Delivering the Circular  conomy: A Toolkit for Policymakers. Cowes, UK.​
Gorgolewski, M. (2018). Resource Salvation: the Architecture of Reuse. Hoboken, NJ : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2018.
Francart, N., Malmqvist, T., & Hagbert, P. (2018). ‘Climate target fulfilment in scenarios for a sustainable Swedish built environment beyond growth’, Futures, 98: 1–18. Elsevier.
Du Plessis, C., & Brandon, P. (2015). ‘An ecological worldview as basis for a regenerative sustainability paradigm for the built environment’, Journal of Cleaner Production, 109: 53–61.
Raworth, K. (2012). ‘A safe and just space for humanity: can we live within the doughnut’, Oxfam Policy and Practice: Climate Change and Resilience, 8/1: 1–26.
Robinson, J. (2004). ‘Squaring the circle? Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development’, Ecological Economics, 48/4: 369–84. 
Thorpe, A. (2010). ‘Design’s role in sustainable consumption’, Design Issues, 26/2: 3–16. MIT Press.

Revisit also literature recommended in course ARK650 “Sustainable Development and Design Professions”, ARK466 “Sustainable Architectural Design”, ARK590 “Building Climatology for Sustainable Design” (in Pingpong/Canvas).​


Walter Unterrainer, Paula Femenías, Liane Thuvander, Krystyna Pietrzyk, Anita Ollár, Ida Röstlund

Page manager Published: Wed 30 Sep 2020.