Woon een doctoraat bij of raadpleeg de voorbije verdedigingen

Salts in the Built Environment - Sebastiaan Godts (17/05/2024)

Sebastiaan Godts

  • 17 May 2024
  • 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Conference Room 101, KIK-IRPA, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
    Parc du Cinquantenaire 1, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
    Route description
  • Supervisors: ​Prof. Dr. Veerle Cnudde, Prof. Dr. Tim De Kock (UAntwerp), Dr. Hilde De Clercq, Dr. Julie Desarnaud


Built heritage faces significant challenges from a rapidly changing society and climate, with salts being a primary cause of stone weathering. These salts originate from various sources, including contamination from groundwater, rainwater, atmospheric sources, biological sources, or internal material. Over time, ions are transported to the surface and deposited at the drying front, where they can crystallize into various solid forms. This crystallization causes expansion in volume and exerts pressure on the surrounding materials, leading to deterioration. Despite their significance, salt mixtures, which also play a crucial role in geomorphology, planetary research, and industrial processes, are understudied. This dissertation investigates representative ion mixtures commonly found in weathered stone materials, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, nitrate, and sulfate. Through the analysis of 11,412 drill samples from 338 historic sites showing signs of salt decay, this study enables more accurate calculations of ionic equilibrium, correct identification of salt content, and further investigation into the behavior of common salt mixtures through both modeling and experimental verification. A major challenge in analyzing these ion mixtures is interpreting the derived ion balance, which can be skewed by analytical uncertainties and the presence of undetected ions, leading to disequilibrium between anions and cations. This dissertation introduces methodological improvements in ion balance calculations, allowing for a more precise interpretation of the data. The complete dataset and the optimized charge balance calculation method were made open-source to encourage involvement from the scientific community. Furthermore, the dataset facilitated the identification of commonly occurring mixture compositions, enhancing our understanding of the ions that influence mixture behavior. Innovative analytical techniques such as Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy, Dynamic Vapor Sorption, Raman Spectroscopy, X-ray Diffraction, and time-lapse micrographs have been employed to analyze the crystallization kinetics of salts under changing relative humidity conditions. These techniques, along with the ECOS/Runsalt model, a tool for analyzing the crystallization and dissolution behavior of salt mixtures under different climatic conditions, provided new insights into the kinetics of salt mixtures and established correlations between the rate of change of relative humidity and crystallization behaviors. This study not only validates the ECOS/Runsalt model's effectiveness but also highlights its limitations and suggests practical solutions for conservation efforts. The findings are crucial for the preservation of built heritage and understanding salt deposition and dissolution mechanisms in general.

3D digital conservation and restoration skills for the 21st century - Lien Acke (06/05/2024)

Lien Acke

  • 6 May 2024
  • 4.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.
  • Stadscampus Paardenmarkt, Knechtjeshuis (s.O.102)
    ​Paardenmarkt 94 - 2000 Antwerp
  • Supervisors: ​prof. dr. Jouke Verlinden, prof. dr. Stijn Verwulgen & dr. Kristel De Vis


Emerging technologies offer many examples and advantages for cultural heritage preservation. As such, 3D technologies can be considered as a new tool in the conservator-restorer’s toolbox. 3D scanning and printing are particularly useful for reconstructing missing parts on cultural heritage objects. However, the application of these innovative methods and materials is difficult for inexperienced users such as emerging, academic and professional restorers. The aim of this research is to make 3D technologies more comprehensible, by bridging the gap between restorer’s expertise and 3D specialists, and to make them more applicable to the restorer’s practice, by aligning 3D technologies to the needs of restoration theory and practice. The research has enabled the construction of a digital toolbox, containing relevant information and previous case studies to guide the target audience in the generation of knowledge on the applied and suitable use of 3D technologies for loss compensation. This toolbox consists out of three tools and is presented online on www.3drestorationtoolbox.com: the first tool, the Mind maps for decision-making, lay out the documented pros and cons of using 3D technologies, the second tool is an Overview of possibilities, which guides the CR practitioner in a 3D restoration workflow that combines traditional, digital, and hybrid restoration methodologies, and the third tool is an Inventory of cases of the cases consulted in the other tools. The 3D Restoration Toolbox is as such presented as a contribution to the integrated implementation of 3D technologies in the restoration practice.

Designing long-term reuse: Uncovering motivators and barriers to sustained use of reusable alternatives to single-use products.- Laure Herweyers (14/03/2024)

Laure Herweyers

  • 14 March 2024
  • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Stadscampus Paardenmarkt, Knechtjeshuis (s.O.102)​
    Paardenmarkt 94 - 2000 Antwerp
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. Els De Vos & prof. dr. Ingrid Moons


Single-use products offer many advantages, thanks to their convenience, attractiveness, and effectiveness in protecting other products. However, they come at a steep cost to the natural environment and human health. Reusable alternatives can provide a sustainable solution, but ensuring their long-term usage poses challenges. This PhD research investigates motivators and barriers to sustained use of these alternatives and aims to provide guidance for designers. The main research objectives are (i) understanding motivators and barriers to long-term usage, (ii) exploring variations in motivators and barriers across products, contexts, and users, and (iii) providing support for designers in developing products enabling long-term reuse. The research methodology encompasses qualitative and quantitative studies including interviews, surveys, and diary studies.

The results indicate that motivators and barriers are related to either willingness, ability, or routine, which are all necessary to increase the chance of successful long-term reuse. User segments and product categories are identified, guiding design interventions. After several preliminary tools for designing for long-term reuse were tested, a framework was developed to aid designers in creating successful reusable solutions, highlighting the importance of tailoring interventions to different user types and product categories.

Future research will involve testing the framework in workshops with design practitioners and other stakeholders. This iterative process aims to enhance the framework's practicality and effectiveness in guiding sustainable design practices. By bridging the gap between research and design implementation, this study contributes to the advancement of solutions for reducing waste and pollution associated with single-use products.

The Neutralisation of Space Through Urban Relocation and Housing in Post-revolutionary Egypt - Mohamad Abotera (22/02/2024)

Mohamad Abotera


While the Egyptian uprising occurred through the politicisation of public space which is well documented, the post-revolutionary regime has since then used urban design to depoliticise space. This is reflected in urbanisation and housing resettlement at an unprecedented rate starting in 2014.

But the impact goes beyond the scale of the urban development. Special control mechanisms, such as profiling, segregation, and deep surveillance, are being deployed in these new spaces. This research examines how interests in domination manifest themselves in the built environment, in a process called the political ‘neutralisation’ of urban space. The study of these projects highlights how global trends, such as neoliberalisation, dissolution of citizenship, depoliticisation, and exceptional enclaving, materialise in their Egyptian, political and historical context, and how politics and hegemony are translated into spatial forms.

This PhD research shows how space was effectively depoliticised by design, and accordingly neutralised. A description of abstract, sterilised, or singular space (Massey 2005; Lefebvre 1991; Sennet 1990) can be seen as the outcome of neutralisation. The PhD research reveals specific design scripts and design principles which produce and maintain this neutralisation.

The neutralisation process is studied by means of two complementary cases: the dilapidated Maspero neighbourhood in central Cairo, and the celebrated public housing project in al-Asmarat on the outskirts of the city. Official statements present Al-Asmarat as a prestige project of good order and civilisation, mostly in contrast to the so-called informal or poor areas, such as the Maspero neighbourhood.

Both are used as examples of the state’s remarkable transformation , but also as a demonstration of its power, kind of order and prosperity. The process of power extension is presented in terms of the ‘disruption and reduction’  of the social and urban fabric, the fabric which is expressed in design scripts and the associated territorialities. Indeed, I found that the neutralisation of space consists of reducing the multiplicity of spatial design scripts present to a single, formal, spatial script that leads to an exclusive territorial dominance.


Terwijl de Egyptische opstand plaatsvond door de politisering van de openbare ruimte die goed gedocumenteerd werd, heeft het postrevolutionaire regime sindsdien stedelijk ontwerp gebruikt om de ruimte te depolitiseren. Dit komt tot uiting in een ongekend tempo van verstedelijking en herhuisvesting in een ongekend tempo vanaf 2014.

Maar de impact gaat verder dan de schaal van de stedelijke ontwikkeling. Sommige speciale controlemechanismen worden ingezet in deze nieuwe ruimten, zoals systematische uitsluiting, segregatie en diepe surveillance. Dit onderzoek gaat na hoe belangen in machtsoverheersing zich manifesteren in de gebouwde omgeving, een proces dat we de politieke 'neutralisering' van de stedelijke ruimte noemen. De studie van deze projecten belicht hoe globale tendensen zoals neoliberalisering, veelkleurig burgerschap, depolitisering, controlemechanismen, financialisering, zich materialiseren in hun Egyptische politieke en historische context, en hoe politiek en hegemonie zich vertalen in ruimtelijke vormen.

Dit promotieonderzoek laat zien hoe de ruimte effectief gedepolitiseerd en dus geneutraliseerd werd door het ruimtelijk ontwerp. Een beschrijving van abstracte, steriele of singuliere ruimte (Massey 2005; Lefebvre 1991; Sennet 1990) kan worden gezien als het resultaat van neutralisatie. Het promotieonderzoek onthult specifieke ontwerpscripts en ontwerpprincipes die deze neutralisatie produceren en in stand houden.

Het neutralisatieproces wordt bestudeerd aan de hand van twee complementaire casussen die diverse aspecten van het proces bestrijken: de vervallen wijk Maspero in het centrum van Caïro, en het overheidshuisvestingsproject 'Tahia Masr' in al-Asmarat aan de rand van de stad. De officiële verklaringen hangen een bepaald beeld op over het al-Asmarat project dat orde en beschaving uitstraalt, meestal in tegenstelling tot een beeld van informele of arme gebieden, zoals de wijk Maspero.

Beide worden gebruikt als voorbeelden van de opmerkelijke transformatie van de staat, maar ook als een demonstratie van zijn macht, soort orde en welvaart. Het proces van machtsuitbreiding wordt gepresenteerd in termen van 'verstoring en reductie' van het sociale en stedelijke weefsel, het weefsel dat wordt uitgedrukt in ontwerpscripts en de bijbehorende territorialiteiten. Ik ontdekte inderdaad dat de neutralisatie van de ruimte bestaat uit het reduceren van de veelheid aan aanwezige ruimtelijke ontwerpscripts en het  terugbrengen daarvan tot één enkel, formeel, ruimtelijk script dat leidt tot een éénduidige territoriale dominantie.

ROADSCAPES REVISITED. A lens on 20th-century car infrastructure for (re)designing urban landscapes - with extended roles for photography - Raf Ilsbroekx (08/12/2023)

Raf Ilsbroekx


“To think is to speculate with images” (Aristotle, 350 BC). The 20th-century car era transformed and rescaled many cities into car-infrastructure landscapes, characterised by an ambiguous heritage of car-infrastructure and a redrawn city map of large-meshed network grids and car-scaled districts. In this dissertation, I approach contemporary Western European urban landscapes specifically through their car infrastructure, thereby focusing through a landscape-triad lens (i.e. area, interaction, perception) and accordingly designate such contemporary urban landscapes as roadscapes. I interpret roadscapes as the 21st-century equivalent of the 18th-century city views, coined as Vedute and made famous mainly by Italian landscape painters such as Canaletto. The photo camera and specific lenses, anticipating perception on a human scale (e.g. eye-level viewpoints, human-eye-perspective lenses), occur to be adequate instruments to revisit (i.e. re-read, re-question and re-imagine) roadscapes. The two main research questions addressed in this dissertation are formulated as follows: (1) Which features of contemporary urban landscapes can be uncovered by re-reading, re-questioning and re-imagining in specific the heritage of 20th-century car infrastructure through a (scenographic) landscape lens, valuable for urban landscape (re)design in general, and can these features be incorporated in an applicable revisitation framework? (2) Can a tailored photographic method and a (derived) photo collection be elaborated, and to which extend can these contribute, to revisit (i.e. re-read, re-question and re-imagine) the heritage of 20th-century car infrastructure in specific and contemporary urban landscapes in general? In order answer these questions, firstly diverse photographic research approaches and their epistemological aspects are explored and mixed with theoretical frameworks and literature predominantly from the fields of urban (landscape) design and (visual) social sciences, and to a lesser extend from the fields of philosophy and fine arts. Secondly, a thorough re-reading, re-questioning and re-imagining of 20th-century car-infrastructures is conducted, thereby research by photography in situ (i.e. Western European roadscapes) is combined with research by design in the design studios of MSc students in Architecture. The main contribution of the dissertation is connecting and crossing aspects from various disciplines into concrete interdisciplinary auxiliaries: (i) a novel photographic method for researching the urban landscape, coined as photographic dialectic, (ii) a scenographic revisitation framework for roadscapes, applicable in multiple research and design contexts, and (iii) an extensive self-produced roadscapes photo collection, as a mnemonic visual notebook, documenting the heritage of 20th-century car-infrastructures.

The Ecological Sensibility: Between Ruskin and Banham - Bart Decroos (24/11/2023)

Bart Decroos


Contemporary architecture seems to be increasingly described as sustainable, circular, re-usable, environmentally friendly or carbon hostile, as being recycled, upcycled, downcycled and recycled once more, and coloured in shades of green no one even knew existed. Indeed, most of the words we use to describe architecture today seem to have shifted in a new direction – in the direction of ‘ecology’. Yet, it is not always clear what such ecological notions in architecture mean. The above terms are often used interchangeably, and even in ways that lead to opposite outcomes.

Drawing from contemporary posthuman theory, this dissertation proposes the notion of an ‘ecological sensibility’ to describe this general re-orientation of architectural discourse today. The roots of this developing sensibility are traced back to two defining moments in Western modern history: the Romantic response to industrialization and scientific progress in the nineteenth century, and the rise of environmentalism and techno-optimism in the second half of the twentieth century. To do so, it takes the work of John Ruskin (1819-1900) and Reyner Banham (1922-1988) to navigate the theoretical notions of nature, materiality and technology, around which this ecological sensibility seems to revolve.

As such, this dissertation demonstrates two things. On the one hand, while ecological debates in architecture might appear as something new, the themes of nature, materiality, and technology around which they revolve run deep in modern architectural history. Yet, on the other hand, it also demonstrates how the way we understand these notions does seem to be changing. Throughout much of modernity, these themes have been understood within strict binary oppositions: in short, nature in opposition to the human, the material in opposition to the immaterial, and technology in opposition to the organic.

Today, however, these binary oppositions are actively being questioned and approached from more hybrid perspectives. Tracing these notions throughout modern architecture history, especially in the work of Ruskin and Banham, it becomes clear that the modern binaries through which they were framed were perhaps always already untenable, and that things have always been entangled with each other. The questions with which Ruskin and Banham struggled as well as their peers, remind us of the impossibility of holding on to the modern insistence on such strict binaries. Instead, a contemporary ecological sensibility revolves around the hybridization of these themes. What emerges from this is a politics of vitality that might illuminate our contemporary struggle with the environmental crisis.

MATERIAL DIALOGUES - the iron column in the work of Labrouste, Wagner and Lewerentz - Eireen Schreurs (15/09/2023)

Eireen Schreurs

  • 15 September 2023
  • 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Stadscampus Mutsaard s.MU.K1.2
    Mutsaardstraat 31- 2000 Antwerp
  • Supervisors: Caroline Voet, Lara Schrijver (UAntwerp) & Mario Rinke (UAntwerp) 


With their focus on the formal and conceptual, most architectural studies reduce matter to a passive recipient of form. Can this perspective be reversed, given the growing realisation that material resources are finite? And if materials are considered active, in what ways do they influence the architectural project? To answer these questions, this thesis develops a material lens that considers the creative process as a dialogue, with the architect and matter as equal interlocutors. By examining three historical cases with innovative iron applications, this lens reveals a dynamic interaction in which materials play a larger and more complex role than is commonly assumed.

To construct the material lens, the thesis builds on theories that challenge an anthropocentric view. They broaden the perception of materials and reveal how material influences the structure, detailing and spatial character of a project. Three historical cases serve as testing ground, starting from an epistemic building element - their iron column. Practice-based knowledge helps in revisiting archival material, reconstructing the design steps and identifying decisive moments in the project. By redrawing, the thesis develops seriations that re-enact the creative process while setting materials in motion. Jointly, these methods reveal "material motives" or predominant material themes that describe different ways in which a material can exert influence and generate meaning. The first motive is material transfer, describing the iron in its interaction with stone in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1868) by Henri Labrouste, where the transposition of stone culture to cast iron properties innovates the design. Assembly is the second motive, describing the process by which Otto Wagner composed his steel columns from standard profiles in the Postsparkasse (1906), steel’s prefabrication generating a new type of ornament. The Cor-ten steel column of the Sankt Petri Kyrka (1968) by Lewerentz is an example of how the origin of a material can be thematised, as the project considered the entire life cycle of steel.

Through this material vocabulary, the thesis identifies just a few of the myriad ways in which materials can challenge and innovate architecture. Collectively, the methods reveal the complex intertwining of material innovation and existing building cultures. There is also a temporal dimension to material motives, as they seem decisive only when they challenge prevailing theories and discourses. By interpreting a building as a process rather than an outcome, the material perspective makes it possible to develop an alternative historiography. Together, the approach, methods and case studies enable a critical conceptualisation of materials, helping to address the challenges the discipline currently faces.

Real options for real urban projects - Uncertainty and adaptive planning in complex spatial projects (25/05/2023)

  • 25 mei 2023
  • Rodestraat 14 (s.R012)
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. ir. Tom Coppens en prof. dr. Tine Compernolle


Project underperformance remains a frequent and world-wide issue in complex spatial projects. A main cause of project underperformance is that uncertainties and unpredictable changes are ignored in dominant CSP practices. Scholars are increasingly advocating to use adaptive planning approaches that consider the impacts of uncertainties and that develop adaptive strategies so CSPs can be adapted to change. So far, there is few knowledge in planning research and practice about how to do adaptive planning in actual CSPs. In this PhD, I first research what the current state of uncertainty management in Flemish CSP practices is. I then research how we can use real options theory – an economic and financial approach to quantify the value of flexibility – as a novel adaptive planning approach for CSPs. I adopt an empirical research approach with three case studies in which I engage closely with stakeholders. The main contributions are (i) the development of a theoretical framework with three models to explain uncertainty avoidance in CSPs, and (ii) the development of a qualitative and quantitative real options approach for adaptive planning that is tailored to the needs of planning practice, with an application to an actual project to illustrate how flexibility can be valuable in CSPs.

Design to breathe - Understanding and altering wind patterns in street canyons to reduce human exposure to air pollution (17/05/2023)

Dimitri Voordeckers

  • 17 mei 2023
  • Stadscampus Mutsaard s.MU.K1.6
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. ir. Maarten Van Acker, prof. dr. Ir. Tom Tytgat, prof. dr. ir. Pieter Billen


Air pollution is proclaimed by the World Health Organiaation (WHO) as the biggest environmental threat to human health, contributing annually to about 7 million premature mortalities and a large disease burden. Although efficient, stringent emission reduction measures were found insufficient to meet the air quality requirements in urban hotspot areas. Street canyons, or urban roads flanked by a continuous row of high buildings on both sides, are perceived as typical bottleneck areas for air quality due to their lack of natural ventilation. In order to develop insights, guidelines and spatial tools to improve air quality in street canyons, this doctoral thesis aims to integrate expert knowledge on in-canyon flow fields and pollution dispersion in street canyons from the specialized field of (bio)engineering into the field of urban planning and vice versa. In-depth knowledge on the technical aspects of in-canyon flow structures was acquired and translated into guidelines and spatial tools comprehendible by urban planners and policy makers. Firstly, in Chapter 1, a Geospatial Information System (GIS) method was developed to detect exposure zones and hotspot street canyons. For street canyons with an aspect ratio (AR) > 0.65, a rush hour traffic volume (TVmax) of 300 vehicles per hour was detected as threshold value to guarantee acceptable air quality. The critical combination between AR and TVmax was subsequently used to detect hotspot street canyons in 3 major European cities (Antwerp, London and Paris). Chapter 2 focusses on acquiring in-depth knowledge on flow and concentration fields in street canyons by conducting an extensive literature review on over 200 studies and translates this knowledge into nineteen guidelines and eleven spatial tools, comprised in a toolbox for urban planning. This toolbox embodies the key element bridging the expert field of (bio)engineering sciences and design sciences. Subsequently, the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was used into a research trough design process (Chapter 4) to illustrate how the design tools can be applied to a specific case study (Belgiëlei, Antwerp). Alternations to traffic lanes (traffic lane reduction and lateral displacement) combined with low boundary walls (LBWs), were found to reduce NO2 levels in the entire pedestrian area up to – 3.6 % and peak pollutions were reduced by -8 %. A maximum NO2 reduction was reached by combining a traffic lane displacement with hedges, adjustments to the tree planting pattern and an increased ground-level permeability, leading to reductions up to – 4.5 % in the pedestrian areas. As an innovative finding, ground-level permeability was found to be efficient in developing through NO2-levels in the pedestrian areas of 17.6 µg m-3 (lowest values in the entire street canyon and lower than the background concentration). In conclusion, urban design was found to be a valuable tool to enhance the effect of emission reduction strategies and draw in-canyon concentrations closer to the value of the background concentration. However, the background concentration seemed to dominate the efficiency of the urban design interventions and therefore, additional measures should be taken to reduce background pollution levels. This dissertation aims to contribute to the awareness of air pollution in street canyons, as well as support local governments in taking action by delivering spatial tools and guidelines applicable for urban planning. Hereby, the research represents a framework for the dissemination of expert information on natural ventilation and air quality in street canyons to the field of urban planning and shows how this information can be applied for purpose of urban design.

Risk management and design control in the front end of medical devices’ development (28/4/2023)

Omar Kheir

  • 28 April 2023
  • Stadscampus Meerminnen (M.004). 
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. Stijn Verwulgen, prof. dr. Alexis Jacoby, prof. dr. Vanessa Vankerckhoven


The digitization of healthcare is changing the practice of providing healthcare. Stakeholders in healthcare, including medical doctors, are now more dependent on smart medical devices that connect with information systems and data clouds to support them in their day-to-day work given the ongoing development of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT). As per the literature, one of the main drivers for innovation in digitized healthcare is start-ups. They are known for their innovative solutions that can improve and support health services, yet start-ups in this domain lack the tools and expertise which can significantly support them in this heavily-regulated, standardized and risk-based development environment.
This dissertation explores risk management and design controls within the early phases of medical devices development. It aims primarily to provide tangible compliance tools for medical devices’ start-ups to assist them with their regulatory and standards adherence efforts which can be extended from existing ISO standard, specifically ISO 13485 and ISO 14971.

The flow of this dissertation is divided into planning, building, and validation phases where each phase entails one or more sub-projects utilizing either grounded theory approach or quantitative surveying. The interlinked results have confirmed that risk management and quality management are success factors in the medical development domain. It also demonstrated that product requirements can be optimized while adopting a risk-based design approach. Lastly, a quality manual template and risk management framework were established and then validated by start-ups in the domain to ensure its usability.

Challenging the concept of user-fit design. A path towards developing an integrated knowledge framework and a practical instrument to facilitate user-fit design, focussing on explicitly incorporating children’s needs into public library (re)design. (28/02/2023)

Michelle Bylemans

  • 28 februari 2023
  • Klooster van de Grauwzusters
    Lange Sint-Annastraat 7
  • Promotoren: Inge Somers en Nathalie Vallet


Vanuit een persoonlijke motivatie als ruimtelijk ontwerper enerzijds, en een concrete nood gesignaleerd door verschillende academische en praktijkexperten anderzijds, is dit doctoraatsonderzoek naar ‘user-fit design’, of in het Nederlands ‘gebruikersgericht ontwerp(en)’, ontstaan. Met de combinatie van de drie kernbegrippen ‘user’, ‘fit’ en ‘design’, willen we de belangrijke, maar niet altijd vanzelfsprekende connectie tussen een ruimtelijk ontwerp en de toekomstige eindgebruikers ervan benadrukken.

Via een verkennende literatuurstudie en een aantal oriënterende interviews, botsten we op drie belangrijke beperkingen in het reeds bestaand, multidisciplinair onderzoek. Naast een (i) terminologische tsunami (o.a. ‘user design’, ‘people-, human- of user-centred, -oriented of friendly design’, ‘socially responsive design’, ‘empathic design’ en ‘inclusive design’) én een (ii) inhoudelijke tsunami van ontwikkelde kennis en inzichten, bemerken we ook een (iii) relatief beperkte of schaarse toepassing binnen de ruimtelijke ontwerpdisciplines van interieur en architectuur. Deze vaststellingen bepaalden samen de verdere focus van dit doctoraatsonderzoek. Aan de hand van een exploratieve, kwalitatieve onderzoeksmethodologie, hebben we geprobeerd om de precieze betekenis, oorzaken en (ontwerp)implicaties van het concept ‘user-fit design’ te verduidelijken in een zelf uitgewerkt geïntegreerd kenniskader, alsook de meer operationele en praktische toepasbaarheid ervan te verhogen in een zelf uitgewerkt inzetbaar instrument. In lijn met de vereisten van exploratief kwalitatief onderzoek, combineerden we diverse onderzoeksmethoden, waaronder een multidisciplinaire literatuurstudie, documentanalyses, open en halfgestructureerde interviews, focusgroepgesprekken, inspirerende bestaande gevalstudies (i.e. referentieonderzoek) én empirisch zelf uitgewerkte of opgezette gevalstudies (i.e. workshoponderzoek). Vanuit een in eerste instantie generieke aanzet, hebben we het doctoraatsonderzoek verder toegespitst op (I) het (her)ontwerpen van openbare bibliotheken als specifieke gebouwentypologie en (II) het (her)ontwerpen voor/met kinderen als specifiek gebruikersprofiel. Op basis van de initieel verzamelde informatie én het lopend onderzoek van promotor Nathalie Vallet, blijkt het bekomen van user-fit design door ruimtelijke ontwerpers in beide concrete situaties immers een grote(re) uitdaging te zijn.

Naast het ontwikkelen van een geïntegreerd kenniskader én een praktisch instrument, heeft dit doctoraatsonderzoek ons vooral bijkomend bewust gemaakt van de vele, vaak voor de ruimtelijk ontwerper oncontroleerbare randvoorwaarden die het al dan niet verwezenlijken van user-fit design (mee) bepalen. Zo zijn heel wat user-fit design strategieën bijvoorbeeld niet uitsluitend gekoppeld aan het door de ruimtelijk ontwerper aangestuurde ontwerpproces, maar evengoed aan de door derden (o.a. opdrachtgevers, intermediaire gebruikers en financierders) aangestuurde context-, resultaat- en/of rol-gerelateerde kenmerken van het ruimere ontwerpproject. Kortom, de realisatie van user-fit design is op basis van de bevindingen in het doctoraatsonderzoek niet enkel de opdracht en verantwoordelijkheid van ruimtelijke ontwerpers, maar ook van een complex en veelzijdig speelveld van verschillende actoren. Tot slot, willen we besluiten dat het doctoraatsonderzoek conform de traditie van exploratief kwalitatief onderzoek (i.e. LT-onderzoek), vooral een realiteitsgetrouwe, overzichtelijke, systematische en bruikbare basis heeft ontwikkeld waarop in de toekomst kan worden verder gebouwd. De weg naar user-fit design is dus niet enkel een brede, druk bevolkte weg, maar ook een lange weg.

Robuuste Collectieve Tussenruimte - Een onderzoek naar de relatie tussen architectonische en territoriale ruimte in stedelijke woningclusters (15/12/2023)

Glenn Lyppens

  • 15 december 2022 - 16 uur
  • Prentenkabinet - Hof van Liere
    Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerpen
  • Promotoren: Tom Coppens en Stijn Oosterlynck


Vanuit enerzijds de sociale, economische en ecologische potenties inzake het ontwerpen van kwaliteitsvolle collectieve tussenruimte in stedelijke woningclusters, en anderzijds de complexiteit en onvoorspelbaarheid die het gemeenschappelijk gebruik en beheer daarvan binnen het leven van alledag met zich meebrengt, is het begrip ‘robuuste collectieve tussenruimte’ ontstaan. Dat is, theoretisch gezien, structurerende open ruimte binnen een woningcluster die – los van de zich daarbinnen ontwikkelende samenlevingsvormen – op lange termijn een vorm van ‘publieke toegankelijkheid’ weet te behouden. Welke ontwerpprincipes nu effect hebben op de robuustheid van gemeenschappelijk ruimtegebruik (en –beheer) in een collectieve tussenruimte, is de hoofdvraag die binnen deze doctoraatsthesis is onderzocht.

Als kritische reflectie op deze vraag, en ook vanuit de doelstelling om de niet zelden door ontwerpers en onderzoekers uit diverse menswetenschappelijke vakgebieden gehanteerde ‘nauwe’ discours over de ruimtelijke en sociale aspecten van ‘ruimte delen’ in het woonmilieu te helpen verrijken, werd op basis van een interdisciplinair perspectief (een combinatie van vorm- en configuratietheorie en urban commons theorie) getracht empirie op te bouwen omtrent de lange termijnrelatie tussen architectonische ruimte en de gebruikspraktijk. Uit de vergelijking van de longitudinale schetsen van drie historische woningcluster-settings met collectieve tussenruimtes (woonpleinen in Londen, woonstraten in Kopenhagen en woonhoven in New York) blijkt dat deze relatie erg complex is. Ze kan enerzijds leiden tot ‘tragische uitkomsten’ zoals de uitsluiting van bepaalde sociale groepen, of de verschraling en zelfs verdwijning van collectieve tussenruimte als common-pool resource. Anderzijds blijkt de ene collectieve tussenruimte als ‘architecturale commons’ al robuuster te zijn dan de andere tegen ongewenste omstandigheden die haar ‘publieke toegankelijkheid’ als sociaal-ecologisch systeem bedreigen.

Door de relatie tussen architectonische en territoriale ruimte van woningclusters via zogenaamde ‘dynamische diepte-configuratie-peilingen’ te bestuderen, en evoluties daarin in verband te brengen met economische, sociale, ecologische en andere veranderingen die zich doorheen de tijd voordoen, ontstaat een veel meer gelaagd beeld over ‘collectieve tussenruimte’ en voor wie ze doorheen de tijd al dan niet toegankelijk is.  Bovendien biedt het onderzoek ook een empirische onderbouwing omtrent de positieve impact van eerder in het theoretisch kader naar voren gebrachte architectonische kenmerken op de robuustheid van collectieve tussenruimte. Deze inzichten zijn verwerkt in een reeks ‘theoretische principes’ die vanuit hun toepassingen binnen de ontwerppraktijk verder onderzocht en verfijnd kunnen worden.

Participatory Heritage Practices in, for, as Sustainable Urban Development - Ilaria Rosetti (07/11/2022)

Ilaria Rosetti

  • 7 November 2022
  • 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Stadscampus
    Hof van Liere - Frederik de Tassiszaal
    Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen
  • ​Supervisors: Jacobs Marc (University of Antwerp), Pereira Roders Ana (TUDelft)


Urban heritage in all its forms and its management processes are widely advocated for fostering sustainable urban development, and people are considered key actors of change towards more sustainability-oriented heritage practices. The participation of multiple stakeholders is considered fundamental for a sustainable heritage conservation, safeguarding, and good governance, for inclusive societies, as well as social, environmental, and economic development. In the past two decades, participatory heritage practices have been widely investigated across regions, however, research has mainly focused on specific case studies, while little attempts have been made to compare and theorize the wide
spectrum of participatory heritage practices’ contributions to sustainable development objectives.

This research addresses that gap by theorizing the different roles that participatory heritage practices can play in addressing sustainable urban development from a management and governmental perspective. To do so, participation is regarded as a wicked social problem and is investigated through a Soft System Methodology (SSM) that moves from practice to theory and from theory back to practices, employing a combination of systematic approaches and flexibility. On the one hand, the first part of the thesis develops the model of the roles of participatory heritage practices through the systematic review of literature (ch.1), international heritage regulatory documents (ch.2) and their assessment frameworks (ch.3).
Three roles of participation emerged – as a right, a driver, and an enabler of sustainable urban development – and nine subcategories, determined by the quality of participatory heritage practices (inclusiveness, forms, and timing), empowerment processes (education, training, and capacity-strengthening activities), and integrated long-term planning (adequate resources and specific regulation). On the other hand, the second part of the thesis compares individual elements of this model with current practices in World Heritage Citiesinternationally, through an online survey (ch.4) and a SWOT analysis workshop (ch.5) in collabroation with the Organization of World Heritage Cities; and locally, through a one-yearand-a-half observation of the development and implementation of the Stuivenberg Program in Antwerp, and a mixed-methods workshop with its coordinator (ch.6).

This thesis contributes to the advancement of the knowledge of the relationship between heritage, participation, and sustainable development through the modelling of the roles of participatory heritage practices. By doing so, it offers an awareness-raising framework (the model) that highlights the common ground among relevant existing theories and tools, and it proposes a mixed-methods approach for the strategy, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of sustainability-oriented participatory heritage practices. As such, it offers guidance to heritage practitioners – the cultural brokers – on how to align regulations, strategies, and practices to sustainable development objectives for the benefits of heritage, the living urban environment, and society.

How much accessibility do we owe each other? Connecting transportation justice theories, policies, and citizen perspectives - Erin Cooper (09/09/2022)

Erin Cooper


Mobility and accessibility injustices have come to the forefront in transportation sector injustices. These terms refer to many ideas from inability enter or exist facilities to inability to reach job opportunities. A large portion of society could be directly impacted by attempts to improve accessibility, and indirectly by the systemic changes that will result from these improvements. At the same time there is a lack of consensus in how to identify injustices, how to address these injustices, and determine how much accessibility members of society owe other individuals. This challenge is compounded by the fact that, unlike income inequality, lower income individuals can have high levels of access and higher income individuals can have low levels of access. In this research we look at four problems: a policy-led approach to ideas of transportation justice, developing a better sense of “who” the transportation system is for, the urban (or quantity) bias, and understanding what constitutes just accessibility. To address these challenges we look at the connections between policy, theory, and citizen perspectives related to the transportation sector. 

We consider Karel Marten’s transport justice theory and its focus on substantive values and distributive justice and suggest a greater focus on how transportation is conceived and produced. We also consider the meaning of sufficient accessibility from citizens’ perspectives in the rural city of Modesto, California. We address whether or not there is an added benefit of Mobility-as-a-Service accessibility improvements for mothers who live in a highly accessible environment, Brussels, Belgium. Finally, we look at various values that are put forward in transportation paradigms, compared to individual perspectives, to analyze the over-simplification of transportation needs. We conclude suggesting a greater focus on understanding what people value, rather than quantitative measures of accessibility. There may be only a limited amount of “access” to basic goods upon which all people could reasonably agree should be available to individuals regardless of life circumstances. Beyond that, use of transportation can be highly individualized, with many conflicts in investment priorities, and a highly variable value to users. We suggest a great focus on democratic processes to determine what transportation resources should be provided.

The look of window glass - A social and cultural history of clear window glass from the 15th to the late 19th centuries in the Scheldt-Meuse-Rhine region - Liesbeth Langouche (11/06/2022)

Liesbeth Langouche

  • 11 juni 2022
  • 11 uur
  • s.C.002 - Prisnsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerpen
  • Promotoren: Joost Caen, Bert De Munck en Bruno Blondé

Abstract ENG

As a historical building material, clear window glass has a low status. This is only too apparent in the ease with which it is replaced by new glass, because of, for instance, today’s insulation standards. Consequently, historical clear window glass is becoming increasingly rare. What is more, we are throwing away a unique and valuable material without even realising it. This is partly due to our current perception of window glass: it is meant to let in daylight and to be looked through while the glass itself is actually invisible. Yet, the ultra-transparency of our present-day window glass is only a relatively recent phenomenon. Until the emergence of float glass in the mid-20th century, window glass was always produced following different techniques and recipes, resulting in various types and qualities. Clients were aware of this range of options, and they chose the glass depending on its intended purpose, while also taking into account the price. After all, glass could be cheap or very expensive. Moreover, the sense of prestige gained was equally important in the selection of glass. All this explains why diverse types of window glass were often applied consciously within one building, and even in one single façade.

In order to understand the subtleties of glazing in the past, my research reconstructs the evolution of the perception of window glass from the 15th to the late 19th centuries in the area between the rivers Scheldt, Meuse and Rhine. As such, it covers the crucial turning points in the history of window glass in our region, starting with the more widespread use of window glass. The interaction with new trends in architecture and interior design is treated as well. Furthermore, the growing diversification in clear window glass is discussed in detail up to the moment when its production became industrialised in the early 20th century. Information was gathered from literature and iconographic sources, in addition to material-technical and chemical analysis of historical window glass, and exhaustive archival research. In the end, one of the main goals of this study is to convince its readers of the intriguing and complex history of clear window glass. Finally, the insights shared in this study, as well as the methodology I developed, are translated into a ‘roadmap’ for the heritage sector. This instrument provides the missing scientific framework for the conservation, restoration and reconstruction of historical clear glazing.

Abstract NL

Blank vensterglas geniet als historisch bouwmateriaal weinig aandacht. Dat blijkt maar al te goed uit de vanzelfsprekendheid waarmee het door nieuw glas vervangen wordt, bijvoorbeeld vanwege de hedendaagse isolatienormen. Hierdoor wordt historisch blank vensterglas steeds zeldzamer. Meer nog: we gooien het weg, zonder zelfs te beseffen wat voor uniek en waardevol materiaal het is. Veel heeft te maken met onze huidige perceptie van vensterglas: het is bedoeld om daglicht binnen te laten en om erdoorheen te kijken, terwijl het glas zelf in feite onzichtbaar is. De ultra-transparantie van ons hedendaagse vensterglas is echter een relatief recent fenomeen. Tot de opkomst van het moderne floatglas in het midden van de 20e eeuw werd vensterglas altijd geproduceerd volgens verschillende technieken en recepten, wat resulteerde in diverse soorten en kwaliteiten. Bovendien waren de klanten zich bewust van deze waaier aan opties en kozen ze het glas afhankelijk van het beoogde doel, maar ook rekening houdend met de prijs. Glas kon immers goedkoop of net erg duur zijn. Meer nog: het aspect van prestige was een bepalende factor bij de selectie van glas. Dit alles verklaart waarom verschillende soorten vensterglas vaak bewust binnen één gebouw en zelfs in één gevel werden gebruikt.

Om de vroegere subtiliteiten van beglazing beter te begrijpen, reconstrueer ik in mijn onderzoek hoe de perceptie van vensterglas evolueerde van de 15e tot de late 19e eeuw, en dit in het gebied tussen Schelde, Maas en Rijn. Aldus omvat mijn studie de cruciale kantelpunten in de geschiedenis van het vensterglas in onze contreien, te beginnen met de veralgemening van vensterglas. Ook de wisselwerking met nieuwe trends in architectuur en interieur komt aan bod. Verder wordt de groeiende diversificatie in blank vensterglas gedetailleerd besproken, en dit tot aan het begin van de 20e eeuw, wanneer de glasproductie werd geïndustrialiseerd. Informatie werd verzameld uit literatuur en iconografische bronnen, maar ook uit materiaal-technische en chemische analyse van historisch vensterglas, alsook uit diepgravend archivalisch onderzoek. Een van de hoofddoelen van dit onderzoek is om diens lezers te overtuigen van de intrigerende en complexe geschiedenis van helder vensterglas. De inzichten die dit onderzoek voortbracht, alsook de door mij ontwikkelde methodologie heb ik tot slot vertaald in een ‘roadmap’ voor de erfgoedsector. Dit instrument biedt het ontbrekende wetenschappelijke kader voor de conservering, restauratie en reconstructie van historisch blank vensterglas.

Embodied interaction in a world full of displays - Marieke Van Camp (25/03/2022)

Marieke Van Camp 

  • 25 March 2022
  • 4.30 p.m. - 6.30 p.m.
  • Online defence
  • Supervisors: Regan Watts & Lucas Van Campenhout


This PhD thesis titled “Embodied interaction in a world full of displays” presents a future vision for designing digital products. Our world is flooded with digital products. Our interaction with these digital products is standardized and largely restricted to the four corners of a display. Usually we interact with these digital products by tapping on icons that are displayed in the graphical user interface. This poorly corresponds with how we as humans naturally interact in the real world.

The overall goal of the thesis is to employ embodied interaction to explore and propose new ways to interact with digital products that more closely resemble our natural way of interacting in the real world. In order to achieve this a Research through Design method was used. New interaction possibilities were investigated in a concrete and hands-on way by developing and testing prototypes of digital products.

In the first experiments, several prototypes of children’s toys with a tangible user interface are developed to investigate a token-based interaction approach. These prototypes are designed to provide tangible alternatives for playing games on a tablet. In these first experiments all graphically-displayed digital information or graphical content is replaced with physical objects or tokens.

Where the first experiments set out to replace all graphical content with physical ones, the final experiments instead recognize the added value of graphical content and aim to achieve an advantageous combination or synergy between physical content and graphical content. Different ways to achieve synergy between physical content and graphical content were explored and demonstrated. Finally, a new framework for designing digital products is presented called the hybrid synergy framework.

Deze doctoraatsthesis getiteld "Embodied interaction in a world full of displays" presenteert een nieuwe methodiek voor het ontwerpen van digitale producten. Onze wereld wordt immers overspoeld met digitale producten. Onze interactie met deze digitale producten is gestandaardiseerd en beperkt zich tot het uitvoeren van handelingen op een scherm. Gewoonlijk interageren we met deze digitale producten door op iconen te tikken die worden weergegeven in de grafische gebruikersinterface. Dit stemt niet overeen met hoe we ons in de echte wereld gedragen.


In deze thesis wordt embodied interaction gebruikt om nieuwe interactiemogelijkheden voor digitale producten te onderzoeken die beter aansluiten met onze natuurlijke manier van handelen in de echte wereld. Om dit te bereiken werd gebruik gemaakt van een Research through Design methode. Nieuwe interactiemogelijkheden werden op een concrete en hands-on manier onderzocht door prototypes van digitale producten te ontwikkelen en te testen.

In de eerste experimenten zijn verschillende prototypes van fysiek kinderspeelgoed ontwikkeld om het gebruik van tokens te onderzoeken. Deze prototypes bieden een fysiek alternatief voor  het spelen van spelletjes op een tablet. In deze eerste experimenten werden alle grafische  elementen of grafische content vervangen door fysieke objecten of tokens.

Waar de eerste experimenten tot doel hadden alle grafische content te vervangen door tokens, erkennen de laatste experimenten de toegevoegde waarde van grafische content. Bijgevolg streven de laatste experimenten naar een voordelige combinatie of synergie tussen fysieke en grafische content. Verschillende manieren om een synergie tussen fysieke en grafische content te bereiken werden onderzocht en gedemonstreerd. Tenslotte wordt een nieuw framework voor het ontwerpen van digitale producten gepresenteerd genaamd het hybrid synergy framework.

Express Your Material Self: Experiental Material Characterization in Product Design - Lore Veelaert

Lore Veelaert

  • 11 March 2022
  • 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Stadscampus
    Hof van Liere - Frederik de Tassiszaal
    Prinsstraat 13
    2000 Antwerpen
  • Supervisors: Els Du Bois & Ingrid Moons


How do consumers experience the materials in products around them? And how can we capture these experiential qualities of materials into information for designers? These questions initiated this thesis. Over the past four years, we have explored how we can study materials experiences of different types of consumers, to support designers in their materials selection process by understanding the targeted users’ material desires for the designed product.
We currently live in a world with an abundance of products and varieties on the market, which complicates the purchase decision for consumers. To satisfy demanding consumers, products must meet both functional requirements and hedonic user needs. A product should work well, safely and simply, plus it must also enhance the user’s life, provide satisfaction and pleasure. Without materials, no products can exist. Thus, materials form the visual and tactile interface with the world around us, and fulfil a part of the functional and hedonic needs. We interact with products through materials , and it is through our senses that we experience materials. In order to foster the user-centeredness of the product development discipline, materials should not be studied in isolation, but incorporate people and their relationship with materials. Central to this research was the exploration of experiential characterization of materials, integrating both the physical representation of materials and the segmentation of different types of consumers.
The thesis consists of four major parts: (i) experiential characterization in product design, (ii) material demonstrator form, (iii) consumer segmentation, and (iv) guidelines for experiential material characterization, and theoretical and designerly conclusions. The first part offers insight in the world of experiential characterization studies in the materials and design domain, and the methodological challenges involved in studying materials experience. It reveals learnings on six needs for future research. The second part addresses one of these needs, and explores the appropriate physical representation of materials for experiential characterization studies. The third part focusses on the need of including extensive user aspects, and examines how consumers can be clustered in meaningful segments that prefer different material qualities. The fourth and final part includes guidelines on how to set-up experiential material characterization experiments based on the previous findings, as well as the theoretical and designerly conclusions of this thesis. It closes with future research perspectives and a future vision for design.


Hoe ervaren consumenten de materialen in producten om zich heen? En hoe kunnen we deze belevingsaspecten capteren in informatie voor ontwerpers? Deze vragen waren het beginpunt van dit proefschrift. De voorbije vier jaar zijn we nagegaan hoe we de materiaalbeleving van verschillende soorten consumenten kunnen onderzoeken, om ontwerpers te ondersteunen in hun materiaalkeuzeproces door inzicht te krijgen in de materiaalwensen van de beoogde gebruikers van het te ontwerpen product.
We leven momenteel in een wereld met een overlaad aan producten en varianten op de markt, wat de aankoopbeslissing van de consument bemoeilijkt. Om veeleisende consumenten tevreden te stellen, moeten producten voldoen aan zowel functionele eisen als hedonistische behoeftes. Een product moet goed, veilig en eenvoudig werken. Daarnaast moet een product ook het leven van de gebruiker verbeteren, voldoening en plezier geven. Zonder materialen geen product; materialen vormen dus de visuele en tactiele interface met de wereld om ons heen, en vervullen een deel van de functionele en hedonistische behoeftes. We interageren met producten via materialen, en het is via onze zintuigen dat we materialen ervaren. Om de gebruikersgerichte focus van de productontwikkelingsdiscipline te bevorderen, dienen materialen niet op zichzelf bestudeerd te worden, maar dienen mensen en hun relatie met materialen te worden opgenomen. Centraal in dit onderzoek stond het verkennen van ervaringsgerichte karakterisatie van materialen, waarbij zowel de fysieke weergave van materialen als de segmentatie van verschillende types consumenten geïntegreerd werden.
Het proefschrift bestaat uit vier delen: (i) ervaringsgerichte karakterisatie in productontwikkeling, (ii) materiaal demonstratievorm, (iii) consumentensegmentatie, en (iv) richtlijnen voor ervaringsgerichte materiaalkarakterisatie, en theoretische en ontwerpgerichte conclusies. Het eerste deel biedt inzicht in de wereld van ervaringsgerichte karakterisatie studies en de methodologische uitdagingen die betrokken zijn bij het bestuderen van materiaalbeleving. Het onthult zes noden voor toekomstig onderzoek. Het tweede deel richt zich op een van deze noden en onderzoekt de geschikte fysieke representatie van materialen voor dergelijke studies. Het derde deel richt zich op de noodzaak om uitgebreide gebruikersaspecten op te nemen en onderzoekt hoe consumenten geclusterd kunnen worden in betekenisvolle segmenten die verschillen op vlak van zelf-expressieve waarden, en op vlak van voorkeuren voor ervaringsgerichte kwaliteiten van materialen in verschillende soorten producten. Het vierde en laatste deel bevat richtlijnen over het opzetten van experimenten om ervaringsgerichte kwaliteiten van materialen te onderzoeken, evenals de theoretische conclusies en ontwerpconclusies van deze thesis. Er wordt afgesloten met toekomstige onderzoeksperspectieven en toekomstvisie voor ontwerpers.

Eduard Van Steenbergen (1889-1952) tussen Modernisme en Regionalisme: van Architecturale Paradigma’s tot een Lezing van het Publieke in Deurne (23/11/2021)

Pieter Brosens

  • 23 november 2021
  • Aula Dieperik - s.MU.K1.6
  • Promotoren: Lombaerde Piet, De Vos Els


​Het kwalitatief hoogstaande oeuvre van de lokale modernist Van Steenbergen – historisch en theoretisch in grote mate onontgonnen - vormt een uitstekende casus om architecturale realisaties tussen het regionalisme en modernisme in het interbellum in Vlaanderen beter te begrijpen, omdat het representatief is voor het tijdscharnier waarin het ontstond.

Het uitgangspunt in dit onderzoek is dat de eigenheden van het modernisme en van het regionalisme niet exclusief besloten liggen in de historische canons of theoretische kaders, maar vooral in de lokale verschijningsvormen van grotere narratieven. We volgen Alan Colquhouns opvatting dat de ware betekenis van de moderne beweging vervat ligt in ‘het onbewuste substraat van de theorie’, die in het architecturale werk herkend moet worden. De theoretische blik wordt dus ingezet om te interpreteren hoe Van Steenbergens persoonlijke engagement zich vormelijk vertaalt in een lokale context. Hiertoe worden de drie belangrijke vormgerelateerde paradigma’s van de Moderne Beweging – het expressieve, het functionalistische en het monumentale – gebruikt om drie casestudy’s in Deurne (Antwerpen) te onderzoeken: de Unitas Tuinwijk (1923-1932), het Koninklijk Atheneum (1936-1940) en het Gemeentehuis van Deurne (1947-1964). We bestuderen de architectuur van drie publieke programma’s met de focus op hun vormelijke relaties tot de openbare ruimte en het stedenbouwkundige niveau. Het betreft een micro-geschiedenis waarin in elke case een synchronische studie plaatsvindt aan de hand van een welbepaald paradigma; de mengvormen van de drie paradigma’s beschrijven het diachronische verhaal doorheen het oeuvre.

We concluderen dat Van Steenbergens verhouding tot het modernisme en regionalisme niet zozeer gaat over vormkenmerken, maar wel over attitudes, adaptieve posities en strategieën waarmee hij zich tegenover een vormvraagstuk plaatst. En het zijn paradigma’s als het expressieve, het functionalistische en het monumentale waarmee hij deze attitudes in vorm(verandering) omzet. Met de pragmatische toepassing van deze vormkenmerken en hun mengvormen in de drie ontwerpen, positioneert zijn architectuur zich in diverse hoedanigheden tegenover het publieke en de gemeenschap. De praktijk van Van Steenbergen is een continu proces van negotiëren: vorm, schaal, en programma worden in relatie tot sociaal-maatschappelijke en contextuele niveaus steeds opnieuw uitgedacht. Het oeuvre van de architect toont treffend hoe de dialectiek tussen het modernisme en het regionalisme kenbaar wordt in de vormelijke en inhoudelijke transformaties van de paradigma’s en gematerialiseerd wordt in de plaatsgebonden benadering van de opdracht.

Cleaning of Wall Paintings by Polyvinyl alcohol–Borax/Agarose (PVA–B/AG) Double Network Hydrogels: Characterization, Assessment, and Applications (29/11/2021)

Ehab Alemam

  • 29 november 2021
  • 9 am
  • Promotoren: prof. dr. Joost Caen en prof. dr.  Koen Janssens


Wall paintings make up an important section of cultural heritage. They resemble time portals that can be used to travel back into the past and witness the life of our ancestors. In these paintings, the ancient artists depicted the different aspects of their life, such as cooking, baking, farming, manufacturing, as well as thoughts and beliefs. Unfortunately, wall paintings are susceptible to degradation over time in the form of accumulations of dirt and deposits on the painted surfaces and loss of adhesion of the paint layers at the surface. Therefore, the removal of these deposits is one of the main duties of conservator-restorers. Such operations are intended to restore the painted surface to a condition close enough to its original state.

Since cleaning artworks may cause undesirable physicochemical alterations and is a nonreversible procedure, the proper cleaning procedure should be adopted. In this regard, numerous gels have been developed and exploited for the cleaning of various artwork surfaces. Lately, polyvinyl alcohol-borax (PVA-B) and agarose (AG) hydrogels have been widely employed as cleaning tools by conservator-restorers. Both hydrogels showed limitations in specific cleaning practices. In this work, we investigated a new double network hydrogel based on blending PVA-B and agarose to avoid the limitations posed by the constituting hydrogels.

For this reason, a detailed characterization of the PVA–B/AG double network hydrogel was performed, including chemical structure, liquid phase retention, mechanical strength, rheological behavior, and self-healing behavior of various PVA-B/AG hydrogels. These new hydrogels revealed better properties than PVA-B and agarose hydrogels and obviated their limitations.

A laboratory experiment on the removal of deteriorated Paraloid® B72 proved that the PVA-B/AG hydrogel, loaded 10%/10% MEK/1-PeOH, was able to efficiently remove these layers. Therefore, the hydrogel was tested on a wall painting from the Temple of Seti I at Abydos – Egypt. It removed the glossy/darkened consolidant from the wall painting and restored the original matt appearance of the painted surface.

In another application on the painted ceiling of the same temple, the hydrogel was tested for removing thick soot layers. The hydrogel formulation (loaded with 5% ammonia, 0.3% ammonium carbonate, and 0.3% EDTA) succeeded in removing these layers with no noticeable damage to the paint layers.

In a wide-scale application of the hydrogel (loaded with 10% propylene carbonate), it removed a highly deteriorated varnish layer from a 19-c wall painting. All the traditional cleaning methods employed caused damage to the paint layers, which proves that gel cleaning can be a safer cleaning alternative in some cases.

From Sociobiology to Urban Metabolism. The Interaction of Urbanism, Science and Politics in Brussels (1900-1978)

Koenraad Danneels

  • 22 June 2021
  • 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Online defence
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. Bruno Notteboom, prof. dr. Greet De Block, prof. dr. Mario Rinke


Today, urbanism and urban design are engaging in a productive alliance with the natural sciences, leading to the international rise of ecological forms of urbanism. In the Brussels region, socio-ecological approaches are rethinking the urban landscape through a biological perspective, and the turn towards landscape design as well as metabolic schemes and circular economy goals show that the region has become a telling manifestation of these evolutions. Still, the implications of these interactions remain unclear, and this dissertation therefore provides the necessary historical background to understand and critically assess today’s alliance of ecology and urbanism.

Indeed, while this use of ecology in urbanism, planning and design seems new and innovative, the history of Brussels – a crossroads of ideas and practices in urbanism – is littered with examples in which disciplinary constellations of urbanists, landscape designers, scientists and politicians created ‘ecological’ or ‘environmental’ forms of urbanism theory and prac­tice. After the First World War, urbanists and landscape architects started to design garden cities fusing urban housing and rural landscapes in the vicinity of Brussels, based on sociobiological urban theories. In the post-Second World War period highway construction centred around Brussels created possibilities for landscape designers to rethink and redesign the green structure of the city. In the 1970s, the advent of urban ecology in Brussels as a new scientific field went hand in hand with new zoning plans, rethinking the city-nature dichotomy through new regional planning policies. All these episodes of environmental forms of urbanism were created by specific historical constellations of actors working on urban questions in Brussels.

This dissertation delves into these particular episodes of Brussels’ urban history and zooms in on the work and network of three experts – urbanist Louis Van der Swaelmen, landscape architect René Pechère, and urban ecologist Paul Duvigneaud – who serve as entry points to map the alliances of disciplines that created different hybrid urbanism theories. It tracks down the different uses of ecological discourses in urbanism and unearths the political aspects of ecological urban design. This research therefore builds a critical historical reflection on ecological urbanism theory and gives insight into the ways in which socio-ecological ideas and concepts find traction and are reshaped by urban de­sign and the urban reality.

To be or not to be an entrepreneur? What drives or hinders an entrepreneurially capable individual to step into active entrepreneurship? ​​​​​​​A muli method, multi perspective analysis

Francis Dams

  • 26 May 2021
  • 4.30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Online defence
  • Supervisors: prof. dr. Jesse Segers, prof. dr. Alex Jacoby


The question “Why do some and not others become entrepreneurs?” has been broadly researched. Paradoxically, entrepreneurial propensity and entrepreneurial capability do not seem to go together automatically. This PhD research investigated the development of entrepreneurial propensity among individuals who possess strong entrepreneurial capabilities. The call for ambitious entrepreneurship justifies to research the activation of nonentrepreneurs who are positioned high on the entrepreneurial capability dimension. 

Qualitative research broadened our scope with insights given by the target group of entrepreneurially capable individuals. The results of the quantitative research allow us to present conclusions, that are concise and simple. The work also suggests how these answers can be further applied by individuals, career coaches and policymakers.

Architect, Engineer or Builder? A history of professional demarcation through practice and discourse, Pune (India) 1930-1992 - Sarah Melsens (16/12/2020)

Sarah Melsens

  • 16 december 2020
  • 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Online defence


Today, urbanism and urban design are engaging in a productive alliance with the natural sciences, leading to the international rise of ecological forms of urbanism. In the Brussels region, socio-ecological approaches are rethinking the urban landscape through a biological perspective, and the turn towards landscape design as well as metabolic schemes and circular economy goals show that the region has become a telling manifestation of these evolutions. Still, the implications of these interactions remain unclear, and this dissertation therefore provides the necessary historical background to understand and critically assess today’s alliance of ecology and urbanism.

Indeed, while this use of ecology in urbanism, planning and design seems new and innovative, the history of Brussels – a crossroads of ideas and practices in urbanism – is littered with examples in which disciplinary constellations of urbanists, landscape designers, scientists and politicians created ‘ecological’ or ‘environmental’ forms of urbanism theory and prac­tice. After the First World War, urbanists and landscape architects started to design garden cities fusing urban housing and rural landscapes in the vicinity of Brussels, based on sociobiological urban theories. In the post-Second World War period highway construction centred around Brussels created possibilities for landscape designers to rethink and redesign the green structure of the city. In the 1970s, the advent of urban ecology in Brussels as a new scientific field went hand in hand with new zoning plans, rethinking the city-nature dichotomy through new regional planning policies. All these episodes of environmental forms of urbanism were created by specific historical constellations of actors working on urban questions in Brussels.

This dissertation delves into these particular episodes of Brussels’ urban history and zooms in on the work and network of three experts – urbanist Louis Van der Swaelmen, landscape architect René Pechère, and urban ecologist Paul Duvigneaud – who serve as entry points to map the alliances of disciplines that created different hybrid urbanism theories. It tracks down the different uses of ecological discourses in urbanism and unearths the political aspects of ecological urban design. This research therefore builds a critical historical reflection on ecological urbanism theory and gives insight into the ways in which socio-ecological ideas and concepts find traction and are reshaped by urban de­sign and the urban reality.

Ideating Hybrid Product Service Systems - Dries De Roeck (21/10/2020)

Dries De Roeck

  • 21 oktober 2020
  • Link: https://studiodott.be/2020/10/07/baekeland-doctoraat/

BUILT____to CONSTRUCT - Frederik Vandyck (24/09/2020)

​Frederik Vandyck

  • 24 September 2020

A Multidimensional Approach to Knowledge Management for New Product Development - Sarah Rohaert (21/08/2020)

​Sarah Rohaert

  • 21 augustus 2020

The transformative potential of land use conflicts. Unravelling processes of politicisation and depoliticisation - Elisabet Van Wymeersch (03/07/2020)

​Elisabet Van Wymeersch

  • 3 juli 2020

European Lacquers – Historical Sources, Recipes and Practices in Early Modern Europe - Vincent Cattersel (17/12/2019)

​Vincent Cattersel

  • 17 december 2019
  • Departement Erfgoed

To be seen – Nubian displacement and the en-gendered resistance in public space - Menatalla Ahmed (30/09/2019)

​Menatalla Ahmed

  • 30 september 2019
  • Promotoren: Els De Vos en Johan De Walsche

Product-service system design: a synthesis approach - Ivo Dewit (12/09/2019)

Ivo Dewit

  • 12 september 2019
  • Promotoren: Prof. dr. Alexis Jacoby en Prof. dr. Paul Matthyssens


Every day, technological changes, social issues, the environment and well-being challenge business and governments worldwide, so that user expectations and the new normal evolve faster and faster. Organizations cannot help but follow this evolution and are forced to adapt and explore new avenues for innovation through the design and development of product-service systems (PSS). PSS makes it possible to design new systems and explore innovative interactions between consumers, their experience with new product-service combinations and their providers. With the synthesis approach (integration of product and service), we focus on a few foci in this study. In addition to exploitation, the exploration of new possibilities in designing PSS is crucial for the survival and development of organizations in the long term. This exploration must be done in the early stages of innovation (FEI). Finally, and in contrast to predominantly economic or ecological motives, we focus in this study on the experience of the user as a distinguishing factor, its importance and meaning in their lives.

This design research is about products and services merging, and exploring new systems emerging. Based on design research as a research strategy, this dissertation focuses on an integrated approach to designing PSS. With this we define a PSS logic and associated preconditions (relevant regulations) to support the design process, and create a PSS design toolkit (usable approach) to enable the synthesis between product and service, instead of maintaining the dichotomy.

The resulting PSS design toolkit integrates human centered design, interaction design, and systems thinking in one methodology and takes its user (s) through three phases. The first phase serves to understand the context and to determine the goal, a second phase to conceive and develop new products, services and systems to the level of a final concept, and a third phase to simulate the scenario, relevant to and in the context of the user. Each step in the PSS design process is intended to motivate activity, which in turn will generate new goals and situations, and each time offers a new starting point for the design. With an emphasis on context, interrelationships and the whole, we prepare future generations of designers for challenges associated with the design of product-service systems.

De vroege hydrografie van de stad Gent, een geomorfologisch en historisch onderzoek van de menselijke ingrepen in de waterhuishouding van het middeleeuwse Gent - Frank Gelaude (05/12/2018)

​Frank Gelaude

  • 5 december 2018
  • Promotoren: Tim Soens en Piet Lombaerde

Een sentiment voor architectuur - Belichaamde architecturale kennis onderwijzen en leren tijdens de dialoog in de ontwerpstudio - Marjan Michels (30/11/2018)

​Marjan Michels

  • 30 november 2018
  • Promotoren: Nathalie Vallet en Erik Wieërs

GENUS LOCUS NEXUS - An inquiry into the nature of research in architectural design education - Johan De Walsche (19/11/2018)

​Johan De Walsche

  • 19 november 2018
  • Promotor: Nathalie Vallet

Experiential qualities in architecture - Dirk Van Oosterwyck (29/06/2018)

​Dirk Van Oosterwyck

  • 29 juni 2018

Planning in de hyperdiverse stad. Focusgroepen als katalysator voor lokale kennis - Katrijn Apostel (04/06/2018)

​Katrijn Apostel

  • 4 juni 2018

The Realm of Silence - Caterina Verdickt (29/05/2018)

​Caterina Verdickt

  • 29 mei 2018
  • Promotoren: Prof. dr. ir. Arch. Els De Vos en Prof. dr. ir. Lara Schrijver


Consequences for the Belgian artistic migration towards Great Britain during the Great War on post war Belgian interior design.

Historical Copper- and Lead Alloys at the Platin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp - Patrick Storme (26/01/2018)

​Patrick Storme

  • 26 januari 2018
  • Promotoren: Joost Caen en Karolien De Wael

Advancing Interiors - Interiorist voices on identity issues - Inge Somers (19/09/2017)

Inge Somers

  • 19 september 2017

The application of 3D anthropometry for the development of headgear: a case study on the design of ergonomic brain-computer interfaces - Daniël Lacko (20/03/2017)

​Daniël Lacko

  • 20 maart 2017
  • Promotoren: UAntwerp: Prof Stijn Verwulgen, Prof Jan Sijbers en KU Leuven: Prof Marc M. Van Hulle