Architecture lecturer part of research project investigating public perception of low carbon building materials

A multi-disciplinary team of 6 researchers (two each from the University of Leeds, University of York and University of Sheffield) have been awarded research funding to investigate public perception of low carbon building materials. The research will start in May 2016 and is supported by The White Rose University Consortium, a strategic partnership between 3 of the UK’s leading research universities, Leeds, Sheffield and York. Sofie Pelsmakers, co-investigator from the Sheffield School of Architecture will collaborate with Danielle Densley TingleyJannik Giesekam (University of Leeds) and Karen Parkhill and Carolyn Snell from the University of York and the project will be lead by Katy Roelich at the University of Leeds. The project will explore public perception of low carbon building materials, including direct benefits and co-benefits and will aim to identify how public policy and designers could use this evidence to overcome existing barriers to the use of low carbon materials and accelerate their uptake. The project will start in May 2016 and last for 12 months.

SSoA lecturer awarded WUN funding to work with Sydney University

Sofie Pelsmakers, lecturer in environmental design, was awarded travel funding by the World University Network (WUN), with contributions from the department and Sydney University to research the “Effect of uninsulated floors on occupant thermal comfort and compensating energy use”. Sydney University have a state-of the art and unique Internal Environmental (IEQ) Lab, headed by Professor Richard de Dear and which will be adapted to allow the research to take place in August 2016. Other projects awarded funding can be found here.

Value difference

Written by Sofie Pelsmakers for the RIBA Role Model Project, Sheffield School of Architecture and UCL energy Institute in support of International Women’s Day on 08.03.2016

The built environment is still not equated with a diverse work force unlike the stakeholders with whom we work with and for. The annual survey of women in architecture released last month, makes for uneasy reading: deep-rooted inequalities and perceptions of gender differences that seem to affect women architects particularly badly. So on international women’s day I’d briefly like to share my journey as a woman in architecture practice, research and academia. In June 2015, I was shortlisted among 11 others by the RIBA as one of its ‘Role Models’, hopefully inspiring others that they too can forge a successful career in architecture. Since I shared my story as part of the Role Model Project, I noticed a positive change within myself and how I view myself. It is hard to explain, but I am more at ease with myself and more accepting of myself. I no longer fear of speaking out about my background (read about it here) or being a woman in a still mostly male dominated profession (more about that here). On reflection, this makes sense: sharing our stories so publicly received positive responses and made me realise that I was wrong to be afraid to speak out. I no longer feel as vulnerable sharing my personal journey: I have a voice and I want to use my voice on issues that matter to me in the hope that it inspires others and to draw out the value of differences. I also realised I should no longer be embarrassed about my background, but celebrate how far I have come despite the challenges along the way and to see and use this as a strength.

Much has happened since June 2015: while I am still finishing the write-up of my PhD thesis at the UCL Energy Institute, I continue to be involved with the RIBA/CIC Fluid Diversity Mentoring scheme, which has been hugely rewarding as a mentor. When I joined the University of Sheffield as a lecturer in the autumn, I also joined RIBA Role Models Professor Fionn Stevenson and Satwinder Samra. Furthermore, I have been privileged to be mentored by several colleagues in informal ways but also in a formal way with Sheffield University’s Impact Mentoring scheme, which aims to increase women representation at all levels of academia. The generosity of my mentors’ time and energy has touched me and made me reflect on my own personal and professional career path and I cannot recommend enough the value of such mentee/mentoring relationships (at UCL a similar mentoring scheme is the Astrea Project). Along the way, my mentors and role models have both been female but many more were male (as we are short of women in the industry!): there have been many who encouraged and supported me and I cannot thank them enough for being part of my journey and helping me and many others to overcome obstacles. While they may not have been consciously aware of it, they were (and are) in fact champions of gender parity.

So, on International Women’s day, my challenge goes to all of YOU: please #PledgeForParity  because gender equality benefits us all. Women represent around 50% of the world’s population, and are undeniably equal stakeholders so we must make sure women voices are heard and actively encouraged. The under-representation of women (alongside the general lack of diversity) in built environment professions must be reduced, to prevent the disempowerment and alienation of a large proportion of the population and lose out on different view points: the diversity and insights offered by a more varied decision-making team can be beneficially employed to generate new ideas and innovative ways of thinking or working, providing the best solutions for everyone. I have already witnessed this in my first 6 months at the Sheffield School of Architecture, where I am part of an inclusive, supportive and diverse department, illustrating that diverse team work and ‘team-thinking’ brings the best ideas to the table and leads to innovative practices and culture changes. We need you, male (and female) built-environment professionals and academics with us to #PledgeForParity not just today, but every day.

“Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.” International Women’s day

Sofie Pelsmakers is doctoral researcher at the UCL Energy Institute, part-time lecturer in Environmental Design and Programme Leader of the MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies at the Sheffield School of Architecture. She is Author of The Environmental Design Pocketbook and co-founder of Architecture for Change. From April 2016 she will support ECD Architects work as Head of Research (Sustainable Architecture), where she will also mentor other young architects. She is honoured to be part of the RIBA Role Model Project #RIBARoleModels #SeeMeJoinMe #PledgeForParity #ValueDifference

You can follow her on twitter @SofiePelsmakers

MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies course webinar

We recently held a successful MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies webinar with prospective students from all over the world.

The event was hosted by course leaders, Sofie Pelsmakers and Aidan Hoggard, alongside student ambassadors Anaclara Penha and Maria Englezou.

The webinar aimed to guide participants, who have an interest in this field on:

  • Our world-leading expertise in sustainability
  • Why there is an industry need for expertise in this area
  • Course structure, outcomes and activities our students are involved in
  • Admissions and selection procedure

View a recording of the webinar here

We have also put together some course videos where you can hear our academic staff and current students talking about the MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies course and why it’s so important for architects to possess skills in this field.


PhD Studentship Opportunity

We are pleased to invite applications for a 4 year studentship funded by the Grantham Foundation, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures focuses on advancing the science of sustainability and connecting it with the policy debate around how humans can live in a more sustainable way.

We are recruiting Grantham Scholars who will combine outstanding intellect with a strong commitment to public engagement, leadership and action. If these principles match your ambitions, you are invited to apply for one of our interdisciplinary PhD research projects to help solve the challenges of sustainability. You will be supported by the Grantham Centre through a unique training programme, designed to equip to with the skills to become a policy advocate and leader in sustainability matters.

Project title: Characterising Uncertainty in Complex Environmental Simulations for Public Engagement with Climate Change Conscious Sustainable Planning and Design

Project description: Urban neighbourhoods and buildings designed or retrofitted with future climate in mind are more likely to perform sustainably. To do so, the planning and design process will require uses of detailed site-specific climate projections, and complex urban microclimate and building climate models. Although computationally intensive, the multi-scale environmental modelling and simulation can be used to systematically explore a large number of planning and design parameters and options, to examine the likely effect on sustainability over time. However, the computer simulation involved is often computationally expensive and contains uncertain elements, and the implication of compounded uncertainties in the complex multi-scale environmental simulations is not well understood. This research aims to identify, quantify and visualise such uncertainties.

Further information and applying

Closing date: 7 March 2016

Future Scenarios – Surgery & Network Event

The University of Sheffield and the Open University have launched the Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios project. This funded programme of work provides an opportunity for three artists to be ‘in residence’ for one year from June 2016 within key climate change networks and institutions. They will be supported to develop new cultural work in the context of climate change scenarios.

This event has been organised by SSoA’s Renata Tyszczuk and will take place on 27 January 2016. The evening will explore why scenarios are such a key element of climate change research and politics, and also why it is important to invite a wider range of perspectives on these themes.

Find out more

How can we build a more sustainable future?

Researchers from the Sheffield School of Architecture joined world leaders and policy makers in Paris for the start of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (30 November – 11 December 2015).

Professor Doina Petrescu and Dr Renata Tyszczuk are attending the conference to share their expertise on urban resilience, industry and energy. Professor Petrescu ran an event on Collaborative Civic Resilience and Dr Tyszczuk will take part in workshops at the Le Bourget conference centre, gathering material for the Creative Climate project she helped launch in 2009.

Collaborative Civic Resilience Event, Climate Generations Area, COP21

Professor Petrescu organised an event and exhibition which took place on 5 December as part of the Climate Generations area of the conference. These areas are open to the general public and those taking part in the international climate negotiations.

The event offered a forum for debate on different approaches of Collaborative Civic Resilience. It aimed to address the role of grassroots urban resilience initiatives in allowing neighbourhoods to adapt to the complex crisis we face: climatic, social, ecologic, economic.

Professor Petrescu is exhibiting the R-Urban research project throughout the conference, which is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and her practice, Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée. R-Urban involves a network of community driven bottom up strategies of urban regeneration. One commons project, in a suburb of Paris, now has 400 citizens co-managing 5000 square metres of land, producing food, energy and housing, while actively reducing waste and water usage.

In order to become more effective, more strategic and have a lasting impact at a larger scale, these initiatives need to act convergently with other initiatives and frameworks. The exhibition presents a number of practices, structures and tools for initiating collaborative resilience and propose a co-produced vision of resilient urban regeneration of metropolitan suburbs.

Culture and Climate Change launch Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios

Culture and Climate Change, a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and The Open University, are pleased to launch Climate Change in Residence: Future Scenarios, a new networked residency programme that embeds artists within contemporary thinking on climate research and policy. Three individual artists or collectives working in any artform will be offered an award of £10,000 each for a year-long residency beginning in June 2016.

The Climate Change in Residence project is supported by the University of Sheffield, the Open University, the Ashden Trust and Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Dr Tyszczuk will launch the project alongside the delegation from the Open University who are attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

This is a pilot artist residencies programme that aims to put more culture into climate scenarios. Scenarios are a key element in the political and public conversation about climate change but have to date been almost exclusively the preserve of natural science modellers and economists. They need company.

Rather than being based in one place, the project aims to follow the networked nature of climate change knowledge by experimenting with ‘network residencies’.

“This project offers artists interested in climate change a unique and exciting opportunity to work within a network of internationally renowned climate researchers and policy makers. By establishing new forms of collaboration, we can open up and bring more energy to contemporary debates about climate change and the future.”

Dr Renata Tyszczuk, Senior Lecturer, Sheffield School of architecture

MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies eligible for Shared Commonwealth Scholarship

From the 20 November 2015 the University will be accepting applications for this year’s Shared Commonwealth Scholarship. We are pleased to announce that the MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies programme is an eligible course, with one award available to an international student from a Commonwealth developing country.

Each award offers:

  • A full tuition fee waiver
  • Maintenance for University accommodation and a monthly stipend
  • Flights to and from your home country

The award will be given to a student with a strong academic background beginning their postgraduate study at the University in September 2016. The closing date for applications is 11 March 2016 and all eligible offer holders will be emailed with information about how they can apply for the scholarship.

The MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies course builds on our commitment to social and environmental responsibility in the design and production of the built environment.

We are a recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering as a Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design. This programme will inspire and enable students to pursue innovative research and design strategies for the built environment

Further details about the award and the list of Commonwealth countries that are eligible

MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies students taking part in materials visits

MSc in Sustainable Architecture Studies students taking part in materials visits