Job: Two PhD positions, Academy of Architecture, Mendrisio

Application deadline: Jun 28, 2015
Two PhD positions (48 months, full time), as part of the research
project “A Cross-cultural Theory of the Urban Passive House”
Academy of Architecture, Università della Svizzera italiana, Mendrisio
The weak point of today’s theory of passive climate control is its
focus on individual buildings and self-sufficiency which should be
overcome by focusing on interdependence and synergy effects on an urban
scale. In this research project, the “passive house” is to be rethought
as an “urban passive house” and conceptualized as part of the
“political ecology” of the city. The project’s investigation is at the
intersection of architecture, ethnography, and science and technology
studies. It examines the complex relationship between the climate and
the city. The future conception of the urban passive house relies on
coordinated “combinations” between the different “agents” of passive
climate control. Therefore at the very centre of this project is the
investigation of meaningful “associations” (Bruno Latour) of spatial
structures, sociocultural practices, and political regulations. The
control of climate is conceived as a practice fundamentally influenced
by culture and politics.
PhD Projects
The two PhD projects will provide important empirical insights for
theorizing the urban passive house. Doctoral students will be
investigating the thermal conditions of an urban neighborhood in the
global South and exploring modernization strategies that foster passive
climate control in the district. With the underlying rationale of the
city as a political ecology, the projects shall combine bioclimatic
urban research with microscale investigations on the use of
“common-pool resources” (Elinor Ostrom), on local thermal practices,
and on the political regulations of climate control. For this, project
proposals that consider a methodological framework combining
ethnography with design research are sought. The following problems
could be addressed by means of this framework:
(1)    Extensive fieldwork examines the “city climate” and the existing
forms of climate control in the selected urban quarter and analyzes how
climatic conditions, density, air pollution, poverty, building
structures, everyday activities and social norms interact. The
ethnography aims to create an understanding of how different social
groups deal with the climatic conditions over the course of the year,
what kind of thermal strategies have been implemented and according to
which historical contexts a prevailing form of climate control should
be understood.
(2)    Design research examines the potentials for an increased usage
of passive climate control strategies in the neigborhood. It would
uncover continuities and compatibilities between traditional and
contemporary forms of climate control and would elaborate passive
scenarios for urban and architectural development. Ultimately, new
urban and architectural rules that improve the fine adjustment between
the urban climate and the climate controls of the city shall be sought.
Interested persons are invited to apply with a project proposal on the
subject of passive climate control as connected to the political
ecology of a city. The proposal should include a brief description of
the city to be investigated and the reasons why it is particularly
relevant for the research topic. The area of investigation has to be
appropriate both for ethnographic and design research. Successful
applicants will have excellent analytical and conceptual skills, a
strong visual sensibility and the willingness to spend about a year in
a city of the global South. Architects with a particular interest in
social science and transdisciplinary problems are strongly encouraged
to apply. Further requirements are as follows:
–    Master’s degree in architecture, urban design (or a related area
such as anthropology, cultural studies, science studies)
–    Excellent knowledge of English (a knowledge of Italian and German
is an advantage)
Important informations
The annual salary will amount to 47’040–50’040 Swiss Francs for a
maximum of four years.
–    Deadline for application: June 28, 2015
–    Interviews: according to requirements
–    Starting date of position: October 1, 2015 (negotiable)
Application submission
Applications must be sent electronically (one pdf-file) to Sascha
Roesler (project leader and Swiss National Science Foundation
–    Project proposal (2-3 pages)
–    CV (including publications)
–    Two writing samples (8 pages max.)
–    Portfolio (8 pages max.)
–    Copies of documents regarding to academic titles
–    Name and email addresses of two referees
Reference / Quellennachweis:
JOB: Two PhD positions, Academy of Architecture, Mendrisio. In:
H-ArtHist, May 7, 2015. <>.

Share this post

News from the field

On the Traces of Misery

“Miserabilia” investigates spaces and spectres of misery in the imagination and reality of the contemporary Italian urban context. The main objective is the definition of tools for the recognition and investigation of the tangible and intangible manifestations of...