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PhD position in Adaptive Building Strategies for Sustainable Earth-based Robotic Construction in Zürich

Studierende finden an der ETH Zürich ein Umfeld, das eigenständiges Denken fördert, Forschende ein Klima, das zu Spitzenleistungen inspiriert.


100%, Zurich, temporary

The research-group Gramazio Kohler Research, Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, situated at the Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA), Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich, seeks a highly motivated PhD candidate to work on the subject of adaptive, on-site robotics for sustainable building construction.

Project background

This PhD research is situated within a larger interdisciplinary project funded by an ETH Zurich Research Grant that aims to revolutionize on-site digital fabrication with natural earth-based building materials. Cement is the source of a significant portion of global CO2 emissions and it is crucial to invest in the research and development of construction materials with lower embodied emissions. Towards this aim, this project will develop an adaptive and robust construction method for the robotic aggregation of workable soil-based material to build unreinforced, non-standard and sustainable architectural structures in an on-site context. This project will be pursued through large-scale experimentation beginning in the Robotic Fabrication Laboratory (RFL), ETH Hönggerberg, and transitioning to an unstructured on-site context utilizing the custom autonomous excavator developed by the Robotic Systems Lab (RSL) at ETH Zurich.

Job description

The work will require close collaboration with two other PhD researchers from the Chair for Sustainable construction (CSC, directed by Prof. Guillaume Habert) and the Robotics Systems lab (RSL, directed by Prof. Marco Hutter) working respectively on a tailored material system and control strategies for autonomous on-site operation. Within this interdisciplinary endeavor, you will advance computational design methods and adaptive building strategies in order to achieve a highly-efficient and robust building process. By developing the building methodology, you will play a key role in integrating the constraints and methods coming from robotics and material behavior.

Your role and PhD research topic will focus on the following areas:

  • Establishment of relationships between material, mechanical and building parameters
  • Building and construction sequencing strategies
  • Algorithmic design and visualization for strategies
  • Feedback-based and adaptive strategies for building based on as-built state
Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated architect and researcher with an excellent academic track record in computational design and robotic fabrication. We expect programming skills (Python and/or C#), experience in robotic planning and ideally exposure to sensing technologies. An interest in material science and mechanical engineering is desirable, and you must enjoy research through physical experimentation. In addition, you should be fluent in English, demonstrate a high level of initiative and independence, and enjoy working in an interdisciplinary research team.

ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Portfolio
  • Up to three selected publications

Within the context of the research, applicants are welcome to describe their relevant background and specific interests.

Admission of doctoral students at ETH Zurich depends on the fulfillment of all prerequisites and follows the . The anticipated starting date is April 2021. The position will stay open until filled, but first inteviews will be conducted in the 2nd week of February. 

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about Gramzio Kohler Research can be found on our website . Questions regarding the position should be directed to Mr. Hannes Mayer by mail: mayer@arch.ethz.ch (no applications).

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