University of Exeter Featured PhD Programmes
Heriot-Watt University Featured PhD Programmes
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
The University of Manchester Featured PhD Programmes

An integrated whole-life solution for modular housing using industry 4.0 technologies (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/ABE/THURAIRAJAH)

Project Description

The UK faces a large undersupply of housing and it has been decades in the making. Coupled with the decline in housing supply is the ever-growing demand for housing which has magnified the housing crisis. Offsite manufacturing (OSM) and modular construction are seen as part of a broader spectrum of innovative contemporary techniques that can be used to bridge this gap. However, the current OSM business models are struggling to address this growing crisis.

Through this project, we propose a whole life solution that integrates: digital; manufacturing; and business processes enabled by Industry 4.0 technologies to make OSM more attractive to manufactures and house buyers. Fundamental to this notion is transforming OSM and modular homes businesses from supplying modular homes to supplying homes and associated services. Boyd, et al. (2015) proposed ‘customers for life’ as the main driver for a digital revolution in housing, arguing for whole life maintenance and adaptation strategy from house builders. Through this ‘whole life solution business model’, manufactures and house builders can take risks, responsibilities and associated profits of maintenance activities that are normally handled by homeowners. This requires a well-designed information framework that connects various industry 4.0 technologies to ensure the successful delivery and maintenance of the home throughout its life cycle. However, this means to designing and manufacturing processes need to consider long term performance aspects including guarantees and warranties. This type of servitization oriented business models is becoming ‘normal’ in other industries such as automotive and aerospace who are starting to offer ‘through-life management solutions’ to customers.

This project aims to use the systems approach to develop an integrated whole-life business solution for modular housing enabled by industry 4.0 technologies.

This project is supervised by Dr Niraj Thurairajah. The second supervisor will be Dr James Charlton.

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/EE/ABE/THURAIRAJAH will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020

Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/ Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


• Boyd, D., Thurairajah, N. and Leonard, M. (2015). Digital Construction for housing: delivering better homes for the customer. BCU in association with KPMG and the futures group. Birmingham.
• Thompson, Emine Mine, Greenhalgh, Paul, Muldoon-Smith, Kevin, Charlton, James and Dolnik, Michael (2016) Planners in the Future City: Using City Information Modelling to Support Planners as Market Actors. Urban Planning, 1 (1). pp. 79-94.
• Cidik, M.S. Boyd, D. and Thurairajah, N., (2017). Innovative Capability of Building Information Modelling in Construction Design. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. 143(8).
• Cidik, M.S. Boyd, D. and Thurairajah, N., (2017). Ordering in disguise: digital integration in built-environment practices. Building Research and Information. 45:6, 665-680
• Hussey, H., Thurairajah, N., Ginige, K. and Goulding, J. (2019) Establishing Descriptions of Building Work in UK. 35th Annual ARCOM Conference: Leeds
• Jayasena, S., Thurairajah, N., Perera, K. and Siriwardena, M. (2019) Promotion of Diffusion of Innovation: A Study of BIM Adoption in Construction Industries. 35th Annual ARCOM Conference: Leeds
• Thurairajah, N. and Boyd, D. (2017). BIM for clients: developing digital dividends. In: Haugbølle, K. and Boyd, D. Clients and Users in Construction: Agency, Governance and Innovation. London: Routledge. p195-213.
• Thurairajah, N., Wedawatta, G. and Thurairajah, N. (2019). Rethinking off-site manufacturing for disaster resilience, In Offsite Production and Manufacturing for Innovative Construction, Goulding, J. and Rahimian, F. (Ed.). Taylor and Francis
• Wedawatta, G., Thurairajah, N. & Ginige, K. (eds.) (2019) Proceedings of ARCOM Doctoral Workshop on 'Industry 4.0 and Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment': ARCOM Doctoral Workshop in association with CIB W120 - Disasters and the Built Environment, 30 Oct 2019, Industry 4.0 and Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment: ARCOM Doctoral Workshop In association with CIB W120 - Disasters and the Built Environment.
• Kelly, Kenneth, Charlton, James and Greenwood, David (2019) Understanding the complexities of managing historic buildings through heritage BIM: a case study of Durham Cathedral. In: 36th CIB W78 2019 Conference, 18th - 20th September 2019, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.