research projects

Ongoing projects

IEA-EBC Annex 69: Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings

IEA-EBC Annex 69: Strategy and Practice of Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Low Energy Buildings (ongoing)

International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy in Buildings and Communities Programme (EBC): project to force international expert exchange.
Subtask B2 leader: Provide design guidelines on how to use adaptive comfort for lowering energy in buildings.
Subtask A1: Standardize the description of field study data from various resources and make a uniform data format.
Subtask A4: Integrating the mechanisms of thermal adaptation and the database to develop the revised grey box adaptive thermal comfort model.
Subtask C: Case studies - Practical learnings from exemplary adaptive buildings, supporting Subtasks A & B

Primary investigator: Runa T. Hellwig.

Arkitektur og Livskvalitet; hvordan arkitektur kan påvirke kroppen og psyken gennem stress systemet

Arkitektur og Livskvalitet; hvordan arkitektur kan påvirke kroppen og psyken gennem stress systemet (ongoing)

Projektet undersøger hvordan arkitektur påvirker hukommelse, læring, smerte, beslutningstagning og udvikling af kronisk stress ved hjælp af målinger af stresshormoner. Projektet sigter mod at udvikle et praktisk redskab hvor computermodeller af bygninger kan afprøves på projektstadiet.

Primary investigator: Lars Brorson Fich

Mini Manhattan – living in a Zero Energy Building

Mini Manhattan – living in a Zero Energy Building (ongoing)

The project investigates the user experience of living in Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB). Two newly erected youth housing complexes at Aarhus Harbour are the subjects of analysis. The project is planned to comprise several smaller (interrelated) studies, including among others an evaluation of the technical performance of the buildings after put into operation, and how the inhabitants’ daily lives influence the performance of the building.

Primary investigator: Mary-Ann KnudstrupAnne Kirkegaard Bejder and Camilla Brunsgaard.

Sustainability Certification (DGNB) and Design Processes

Sustainability Certification (DGNB) and Design Processes (ongoing)

The Danish sustainable certification scheme (DGNB) provides the framework and criteria for the construction of buildings in a sustainable manner. The scheme is voluntarily, however more and more clients have requirements for sustainability and wants a certification. A conventional design process of today with large focus on energy use and indoor environment is already highly complex, where the use of DGNB undoubtedly will increase the complexity. This research project investigate design and decision-making processes when using a DGNB certification scheme. The aim is to acquire an understanding of the processes and thereby being able to develop new methodologies and tools to support the design and decision-making processes.

Primary investigator: Camilla Brunsgaard

Sustainable Housing In Architectural Perspective

Sustainable Housing In Architectural Perspective (ongoing)

The project investigates historic and contemporary housing complexes in sustainable and architectural perspective, and seeks to encircle principles for future sustainable housing complex design. Central in the perspective of sustainable architecture is that housing complexes often constitutes single developments that are so huge that one can design for and establish specific microclimates, biospheres and exergy conditions, and that one can design for both private, semi-private, semi-public and public space within the same development thus facilitating both environmental and social sustainability.

The research approach is broad and Vitruvian in the sense that both technical, socio-functional and multi-sensuous, aesthetic aspects highly matters and should be integrated through architectural design.

Primary investigator: Michael Lauring

Stress Assessment Tool for Architectural Design

Stress Assessment Tool for Architectural Design (ongoing)

The aim of this project is to investigate the link between the embodied reaction and (conscious) aesthetic experience of architectural settings and the possibility of capturing this relation through a questionnaire that can be used to assess the impact of spaces on stress in the design process. Starting from enactive-embodied cognition theory, cognitive linguistics, and Küller’s Semantic Environment Description (SMB) questionnaire, the project goal is to explore how the space-body-language relationship can be used together with physiological measurements (e.g., cortisol) to develop an assessment tool to describe and capture people’s aesthetic experiences of spaces and their anticipated stress reaction.

This project is supported by Aalborg University as part of the “Knowledge for the World” 2016-2021 strategy for recruiting top-level international post-docs.  

The project is part of the research program investigating the impact of architecture on people’s psychosomatic health and behavior led by Lars Brorson Fich (PI), supported by Realdania and the Obel Family Foundation.

Primary investigator: Andrea Jelic

Children in the built environment, play, learning, creativity (state of the art research): What can we learn from embodied cognitive science and co-creation?

Children in the built environment, play, learning, creativity (state of the art research): What can we learn from embodied cognitive science and co-creation? (ongoing)

The project aim is to critically explore existing scholarship and synthesize the key collection of literature and vocabulary associated with children’s holistic development through playful learning, embodied cognitive science, and designer-child collaborations in the built environment in order to identify ‘the state of the art’,  as well as examples of practice, nationally and internationally. In particular, the projects goal is to investigate and set future research directions for understanding (1) how the built environment (architectural and urban spaces) and (2) the active involvement of children in the design of the built environment can influence children’s interaction with and use of space, and more specifically, help promote and enhance children and young people’s play, learning, and creativity.

The research project is done in collaboration of SARC researchers (Lars Brorson Fich, Tenna Doktor Olsen Tvedebrink, Andrea Jelić) and Transformation Research Lab (Lea Louise Holst Laursen, Michael Martin, Lydia Immanuela Oehlwein), and it is funded by Capital of Children.

Completed projects

Expecting Space: an enactive and active inference approach to transitions

Expecting Space: an enactive and active inference approach to transitions (completed)

Moving from one space to another encompasses spatio-temporal and motor related systems in the body to make sense of the environment. At the cross-section of cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and architecture, this project investigates how action potentials, or affordances, in a given space change the way we perceive, and thus experience, transitions. Bodily action intrinsically relate to perception beyond traditional cognitive models. That action influence cortical processes of perception is studied using electroencephalography and virtual reality.

Thesis available here.

Primary investigator: Zakaria Djebbara

Design of Holistic Zero Energy Buildings

Design of Holistic Zero Energy Building Design (completed)

Through a multidisciplinary approach to architecture and building design, and with a point of departure in the Integrated Design Process, this research project presents a number of Design Principles illustrating Design strategies and technologies that are especially important to consider and to deal with during the design process when designing zero energy homes.

Publication: Zero Energy Buildings - Design Principles and Built Examples. (2014 ) in Danish publication and English publication. The project is developed under the auspices of the Danish Strategic Research Centre for Zero Energy Buildings which was established with support from the Strategic Research Council, the Programme Commission for Sustainable Energy and Environment and Aalborg University.

Primary investigators: Mary-Ann Knudstrup and Anne Kirkegaard Bejder

Trivsel og Boligform

Trivsel og Boligform / Well-being and Housing (completed)

The project aimed at uncovering and systematizing existing research-based knowledge in relation to well-being and type of accommodation for frail elderly that need care and to present research-based knowledge that can be used by decision-makers of Danish municipal authorities and other key actors in connection with the establishment of accommodation for senior citizens. The project was carried out in cooperation with CAST at the University of Southern Denmark.

Primary investigator: Mary-Ann Knudstrup

Minus carbon and plus energy refugee house

Minus carbon and plus energy refugee house (completed)

Various natural and man-made disasters force the affected population to flee from their homes to other safe places. Providing these affected people with quick and cost-efficient shelters is always a challenge. The minus carbon and plus energy house in Brunnnshög, Lund , Sweden is an eco-cycle refugee shelter with the aim to reach a six ‘Z’ target (i.e. ‘6Zs’), meaning zero emissions, zero energy, zero waste, zero cost, zero indoor air pollutants and zero impact on the environment after the house demolition. The key idea of this eco-cycle shelter is to reach a net 6Zs during all stages: material extraction, building construction, operation and maintenance until the shelter’s end of life, which depends on plant-based raw materials are brought in from the surrounding area to the building site. The main building materials used are straw, reeds, wood, clay and lime. The house is water and rodent resistant and fire proof due to the compressed straw panels used. All the waste outcome is re-used or recycled again in different forms like bio-gas, compost and liquid fertilizers.

As the house prototype is independent of fossil sources of energy and is fully supplied with renewable energy. It depends on three main passive systems for heating, cooling and natural ventilation which are Trombe wall, green wall and earth pipes. The low energy requirement for the operation is sufficient to provide a constant supply of energy all year long, even during overcast and muggy days. The house is equipped with an earth fridge and dry washing machine which helps also in reducing energy consumption. The house is 40 % more energy efficiency compared to conventional buildings in Sweden due to utilising natural passive means. Living in a shelter house that has a minimal carbon footprint can bring about other changes in the occupants’ lifestyle that also have a positive impact on the environment, including growing their own food. In addition, raising children in a passive and zero carbon house will also bring about positive change for the next generation whose lives are expected to improve even more.

The house was built in 11 working days with the help of average 4 workers using only a screwdriver and a small electric cutting saw. The holistic idea of this shelter design notion is to benefit from living in a passive, zero energy and zero carbon house which also provides high levels of overall comfort without compromising the environment and with a lower cost of living than conventional houses. When it is time to demolish the house, it will decompose back to nature with zero impact on the environment. The beneficiaries of this project include not only refugees but also the majority of those seeking affordable housing and healthy living. The shelter is designed for the cold Swedish climate, but the method can be adjusted to other climates or geographical contexts.


Dabaieh, M., Alwall, J., 2018. Building now and building back. Refugees at the centre of an occupant driven design and construction process. Sustain. Cities Soc. 37, pp.619–627.
Dabaieh, M. 2017. A minus carbon eco-cycle earthen refugee shelter: a feasibility study. In:  Mileto Camilla et al., (Eds.), Proceedings of SOSTierra 2017, Vernacular and Earthen Architecture: Conservation and Sustainability, 14-16 September 2017, Valencia, Spain. ISBN (978-113-803-546-1)
Dabaieh, M., 2017. The 6 Zs Refugee Shelter, in: Brotas, L., Susan, R., Fergus, N. (Eds.), Proceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference- Design to Thrive. NCEUB, 3-5 July 2017. Edinburgh, Scotland. ISBN (978-0-9928957-5-4)
Dabaieh, M., 2017. Minus carbon and plus energy design home kit. ISBN: 978-91-628-9221-0. ISBN 978-91-7104-884-4


Primary investigator: Marwa Dabaieh