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The role of technology in supporting evidence-based solutions in resilient cities

Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering

Prof Lori McElroy Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

As the world emerges from the current pandemic, while in some quarters there will be a rush towards ‘normality’ in other sectors this will not be possible. In construction, following the Hackett review of Grenfell we will face new restrictions and challenges in both building and urban design. Cities will need to change and adapt and so will their populations: things that we took for granted will no longer be possible or practical – from negotiating our highstreets, to retail experiences to navigating tall buildings to inhabiting artificially conditioned spaces. On the one hand we are dealing with an existing infrastructure which will be central to our new normal, but on the other hand it is no longer fit for purpose. We have no choice – we will need to find new ways to adapt our existing infrastructure to make it resilient to future disruptors.

 Alongside this we have opportunities:

 Smart Cities: in other words, cities that incorporate information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. This is generally based on the entire urban eco-system, represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development – institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.

 Building performance appraisal and city scale modelling is now being linked with building information modelling and digital twins in terms of creating databases of components / coordinating the assembly of these components and how they can be disassembled and disposed of or preferably reused, plus advice on their whole life cycle and when components should be replaced. This information is also being used to provide the baseline information for other performance modelling tools and occupant behaviour assessments. Pre pandemic we lived in a world where designers were content to manage risk, however, no one is willing to take the risk that the digital twin is wrong any more – the margins are narrowing and the risks are high.

 While in the past we have been content to rely on approximations and best estimates, people are now looking for certainty – it is not about what the model says – it’s about what the building does or how the space works. ‘Big Data’ and the internet of things can provide us with clues but there are barriers to accessing data, due for example to firewalls and GDPR.

There is already a wide range and depth of activity taking place within the Faculty around the use of everything from building to city and regional scale simulation to support policy development and decision-making for Regional and National Governments, to the role of modelling in accelerating the integration of Smart Technologies into Smart Grids - from innovative energy solutions, to e-mobility, to digital transformation and digital twinning at a building or city scale – all underpinned by a heightened public awareness of the importance of designing for wellbeing.

 This cross-disciplinary PhD project will build on the relationship between the Architecture and Mechanical Engineering Departments and the City of Glasgow to explore the role of building performance assessment; performance in use and the health and wellbeing of citizens re-evaluating our relationship with our urban and built environments in pursuit of a healthy, resilient future.

 In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

Subject Areas include: Architecture and the built environment, Town & Country Planning

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