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Low-Carbon Repair Materials for the Conservation of Post-War Listed Buildings

About This PhD Project

Project Description


Our cultural heritage is being destroyed faster today than at any time in the past. An understanding of the basic processes causing deterioration of artefacts is urgently needed. As more and more concrete structures are being classified as a national heritage, new composite materials and technologies are required to achieve good, compatible performance and appearance not interfering with architectural or artistic values of structure.

English Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland have recently started to list post war buildings, which in itself has been a controversial issue. These buildings were generally designed to have a short life span and are suffering from significant defects as a result of poor and inefficient maintenance. Some building materials used at the time are proving difficult to repair due to difficulties in effectively matching colours and textures of the repair to the original material. One of the critical issues controlling long term performance is water transport through building partitions and the compatibility of original and repair materials. To date, very little investigation has been carried out to explore the different methods and techniques which could be effectively utilised in the repair and maintenance of these buildings.

The ultimate aim of the research will be to develop repair materials and application technologies for conservation of old concrete buildings in order to ensure that these structures are preserved and re-used for future generations as a record of the historical era
and construction methods. The main objectives of the project can be grouped in 4 interrelated Work Packages:

WP1 ● Assessment of the condition of deteriorating material with special historical value -physical-chemical properties (water absorption, salt concentration), mechanical properties (surface hardness) and microstructural features (near surface porosity, permeability, pore size distribution and densities)
WP2 ● Determination of required mechanical and microstructural parameters of repair material required to ensure compatibility with substrate material in different environments (wet & moderate climates)
WP3 ● Development of mitigating technique – design of internally cured cementitious repair materials (pozzolanic material and polymers) with improved performance (adhesion & durability) and low CO2 footprint ● Multicriterion optimisation of a new repair composite
WP4 ● Validation of results from WP3 – durability assessment of installations exposed to accelerated deterioration (wetting/drying and freezing/thawing)


The project is particularly suited to students from civil and materials engineering background with good experimental and statistical skills, however applications are also welcome from students from related disciplines such as chemistry and architecture. The successful candidate will need to demonstrate a good understanding the technical aspects of the problem, any prior experience in conservation sector would be an advantage.

Research Strategy and Research Profile

Glasgow Caledonian University’s research is framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, We address the Goals via three societal challenge areas of Inclusive Societies, Healthy Lives and Sustainable Environments. For more. This project is part of the research activity of the Research Group – Sustainable Materials and Structures url.

Project reference number: SCEBE-19-005

How to Apply

This project is available as a 3 years full-time PhD study programme.

Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisors for the project before applying. Applicants should complete the online GCU Research Application Form, stating the Project Title and Reference Number (listed above).

Please also attach to the online application, copies of academic qualifications (including IELTS if required), 2 references and any other relevant documentation.

Please send any enquiries regarding your application to: Applicants shortlisted for the PhD project will be contacted for an interview.

For more information on How to apply and the online application form please go to

Professor Agnieszka Klemm

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