PhD Students

CLAUDIA PASQUERO (defended 2019)


Bio-city: on the relevance of bio-computation in architecture and urban design

Doctoral thesis defended 22.11. 2019

Supervisers PhD Mario Carpo, PhD Veronika Valk

My work and research operates at the convergence of discipline such as biology, computation and urban design. I am looking at the city from a non-anthropocentric point of view, realising that in our contemporary global world it is impossible to trace a clear distinction between nature and artifice, between landscape and city and ultimately between the biosphere and the urbansphere. From a satellite view it is quite difficult to define the boundaries between natural and artificial, contemporary global cities despite being large artificial systems often develop patterns that seem to recall natural formations of a radically different kind. From this perspective cities and their morphologies are mostly determined by the flows of matter, information and energy that fuel their metabolisms. Urbansphere, the global apparatus of contemporary urbanity, is a dense network of informational, material and energetic infrastructures that sustain our demanding metabolism while offsetting the fluctuations of the natural Biosphere. I propose a model to articulate the behaviour of the Urbansphere and define new terms for its sustainable co-evolution with the Biosphere. This responds to principles of biologic self-organisation, and operates by embedding a numerical/computational engines onto spatial/morphological substrata.

SILLE PIHLAK (defended 2020)


Between the idea, tool and real(ization): Algorithmic processes in timber architecture and design

Supervisors PhD Jüri Kermik, PhD Roland Snooks

Defending her thesis on 21.12.2020

Administration of digital design tools and technology to raise the construction potential of anisotropic materials. Introducing the terms idea, tool and real to describe the current design processes in my practise. Previously dominating linear dialog (idea to real, idea to tool, tool to real) have made its way to systematic re-appearing loops. Those loopholes have activated variability in scales (from high voltage pylon to urban city stages to accessories), integration of material characteristics (timber, plywood, glu-lam), machine limitations/ possibilities (timber manufacturers CNC mills) and sustainability (form human energy to environmental exhaustion).

SIIM TUKSAM (defended 2020)


Modulated Modularity. From mass customisation to custom mass production

Supervisors PhD Renee Puusepp, PhD Antoine Picon

Defending his thesis on 22.12.2020

Modulated modularity proposes an algorithmic method for approaching modularity in architecture in the age of automation. This method of spatial and tectonic modulation is based on the experience gained by developing experimental projects for industrial pre-fabrication and efficient assembly, utilising available standard materials within the practice of PART Architects.
The research looks at the current state of industrial pre-fabrication and modular construction strategies as well as integrated design methods within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry and developments within the discipline of digital architecture over the past 30 years. In parallel, the relationship between the two fields is studied through a series of experimental projects ranging from installations to buildings and infrastructural objects.
The dissertation looks at topics such as: algorithmic architecture and the crisis of pavilion architecture; modularity and pre-fab construction; building information modelling; integrated design; automation, standardisation and creativity; the politics of digitalisation and the aesthetics of modulated modularity.

ROEMER van TOORN (defended 2022)

Making Architecture Politically. From Fresh Conservatism to Aesthetics as a Form of Politics

Pre-reviewers: Prof. Panu Lehtovuori (Tampere University of Technology), Prof. Arie Graafland
Opponent: Prof. Arie Graafland

The problem is not to make political architecture, but to make architecture politically. Making architecture politically has everything to do with breaking things open, to arrive in-between. This form of engaged architecture defines political architecture neither as ideological nor as undoing ideology, but as achieving a non-ideological status through the realisation of running room. Non-ideological architecture in that sense is truly political precisely because it is conscious of the materials it is based on. Through its aesthetic-ideological specificity, being in the world is elevated to a stage of experience and knowledge that transforms the subjective element and its situation, and exactly such an aesthetic technique can contribute to social change.

Making architecture politically will not be without consequences. Many of architecture’s properties, including its history of ideas, and forms of content need to be reconsidered. What counts, is under what conditions, and with respect to what forces, architecture could become active and creative, rather than reactive or nihilistic. Such an architecture is as much about ideas, as the discovery, and invention of new forms of the political. Making architecture politically cannot lose sight of its conditional nature either, it must take risks speculating what the future could be about.

Making architecture politically opens with an analysis of the current conjecture of Neoliberalism through the concept of the Society of the And, opposing an understanding of our condition through modes of Eitherorism. It’s a voyage, travelling along the many interdependencies of the revolutionary conservatisms of Fresh Conservatism and Progressive Neoliberalism — parallel to the arrival of a new phase of global modernisation (Second Modernity) with a special and elaborated focus on the role of contemporary architecture in Dutch society (from the 90ties onward) — while its second chapter moves beyond Fresh Conservatism; towards a possible third of emancipation in architecture with its plea for an Aesthetics as a Form of Politics towards a cosmopolitical outlook.



Urban meta-morphology: new principles of urban structure

Supervisors PhD Mart Kalm, PhD Panu Lehtovuori

The PhD is about developing a new method to map and reveal the invisible image of the city using social media data and activity patterns. It is believed that spatial accessibility is the main attractor of social interactions (activities) and economic transaction (businesses) but in my case studies I present how the shape of the city is no longer related to activity patterns and use of certain space. This means that the practice of planning has to be updated and upgraded with this new understanding of urban phenomenology. Through the work of SPIN Unit I have used this new methodology (urban-metamorphology) to influence the planning and education practice in the US, Europe and Russia.



The brief. A negotiation: a dialogue to craft outcomes for architecture

Supervisor PhD Veronika Valk

Looking at the body of work of my creative practice, one of the consistencies that binds the work together is the act or process of negotiating. I use the notion of negotiation as a lens to look at the completed projects and discuss the work in terms of public behaviours. For an architect, a brief is a transformative trigger. The brief is a point of departure, to examine the range of forces that shape the ‘public’ brief in particular, prior to it coming to the attention of the architect. Looking specifically at the context of Northern Ireland, I will attempt to unravel the complex political, social and spatial conditions that give rise to the birth of the brief, and suggest how the architect might intervene in this process to alter its DNA.



Dünaamiline kontekstualism

Juhendaja PhD Andres Kurg

Planeeritav doktoritöö otsib arhitektuuripraktika laiematest ümbrustest uusi ruumiideid. Eesmärgiks on jõuda heuristilise tööriistani, mis aitaks (nt klimaatilisse, geograafilisse, majanduslikku, poliitilisse, psühholoogilisse, poeetilisse) ümbrusesse kätketud ruumiideedel paremini tegelikesse arhitektuuriprojektidesse jõuda. Samuti tõstatatakse küsimus, mida võiks tähendada Eesti oludele vastav (kontekstitundlik) arhitektuur.

Foto: Krista Mölder and Neeme Külm “Being Present”, 2012

KARLI LUIK (extern)


Disturbing Landscapes

Suprevisors PhD Tadeja Zupančič, PhD Veronika Valk

We are all victims of the architect – architecture is the only art that you cannot help but feel. Every architect is a dictator stimulating some sensations and hindering others. Architecture is a form of politics performed directly at bodies. By deforming landscapes, building obstacles and creating spaces we always deform and change the identities of the users. In this way architecture is never „nice” nor „beautiful” but rather an obscure matter striving to fulfil someones obsessions. My creative practice research ventures into the impossibility of control in architecture, impossibility of direct communication, impossibility of sufficient understanding, impossibility of being completely honest, often impossibility of addressing the relevant issues that actually matter.



Architect on social roles

Suprevisors PhD Andres Sevtsuk, PhD Veronika Valk

In my doctoral dissertation, I intend to open the nature of the work of architects in the public and third sectors, also in spatial planning, design of public space, according to my diverse practice. I describe the differences, similarities, overlaps and connections of these works with traditional architect’s practice, where architect designs something to be built up. According to the initial plan, the output of the doctoral thesis contains conclusions and a vision based on my practice, which can give a clearer meaning to the work of architects acting in public sphere.




Animating future scenarios for public space

Supervisors PhD Andres Kurg, PhD Maroš Krivy

Public space has become a widespread agenda for architects. The „space between the architecture“ has become subject to political correctness. Yet the notion of public space goes far beyond generous gestures in the built environments. In a global market economy, the public extends to geopolitics in planetary scale, yet very few spatial factors have been subject to environmental thinking as a public domain. With policies like the Paris Agreement, the first steps have been made in understanding the potential of a global public space, yet spatial practitioners stand far from being at the core of these debates, while their tools of projecting scenarios can potentially be the most effective in animating future developments.



Cartography by design: achieving precision in architectural design

Supervisor PhD Jüri Soolep

My thesis builds on projects completed by my architectural studio, tutoring at the Estonian Academy of Arts and conducting research on spatial structures of Estonian non-urban landscapes. For ten years I have organised and tutored the “Shelter” construction workshops for the first year architecture students, used ‘cartography by design’ as my tool of research and worked with a variety of clients. I have studied non-urban landscapes of Estonian villages alongside running a studio. My research into historic maps in urban context intertwine with architectural interventions. Through the PhD process I highlight transformative triggers of such practice and ask what are the constraints for achieving precision in architectural design.



Disruptive Infrastructural Renewal: The Case of Rail Baltica

PhD Maroš Krivy

The spatial order of the world is urban and its history is one of circulation. Therefore, researching mobility infrastructure can offer particularly valuable insights for urban studies, revealing geometries of power. My thesis delves into the particular controversies around planning and delivering Rail Baltica, analysing the economic and political context of the particular time and location. Considering capital and circulation as the defining agents of urbanisation, my research investigates the motivation of various stakeholders against the global challenges as well as local impacts of large scale infrastructural renewal by combining a topological mapping of the planning process with qualitative case studies.



Cybernetics and Participation in 1960s Architectural discourse and practice

Supervisor PhD Maroš Krivy

In my thesis I work towards constructing a framework for understanding participatory practices in architecture today. As suggested by the title’s prefix ‘post’ I work from the position that the conditions for what participation mean have changed since it emerged as a concept in the 1960s.

Developed in post-war Europe to counterbalance the principles of modern architecture: that space can be controlled through organization, participatory practices in architecture originate from what can be called ‘responsive architecture’. I look at projects developed in this spirit by figures such as Cedric Price, Yona Friedman, Jan Gehl. These projects stress the importance of adaptability, new technologies, user involvement and are often represented by flexible, often abstract structures, in order to suggest the ways in which space in turn can be manipulated by its inhabitants.

Faced with the same environmental, social and technological issues these ideas have resurfaced in contemporary architectural practice at different scales. With the experience of contemporary capitalism that precisely rely on adaptability, user involvement and active participation, these practices can be criticized as redundant today. The intention of my thesis is not (only) to criticize and advise against reapplying the concepts from the 1960s, but to identify the arguments that influence or are repeated in architectural form today.



Curated Biodiversity as a Mitigator of Global Urban Change: Orienting Value Systems with Landscape Architecture Solutions

Supervisor PhD Urve Sinijärv

Doktoritöö ülesanne on mõtestada maastikuarhitektuuri distsipliinina positsioonis, kus vastavate võtetega on sel võimalik toimida leevendavate meetmete kogumina. Globaalmuutuste põhjused on lokaalsed ehk et saanud alguse kohalikul tasandil tehtud otsustest ja tegevustest. Nende muutustega tegelemine peab samuti algama kohalikest otsustest. Kuigi muutused on olemuselt reaalteaduslikud, siis lahendused neile peituvad järjest enam humanitaarteadustes ehk tuleb tegeleda inimeste suhtumiste ja veendumustega. Globaalmuutuste põhjuseks ei ole halvad kavatsused, vaid üldsuse tahtlik teadmatus. Sellest on saanud majandusressurss, mille pinnalt saab teha majandusest juhitud otsuseid, hoolimata olulistest väärtussüsteemidest.

Globaalprobleemidele lahenduste otsimine lokaalsel tasandil ei lahenda loomulikult globaalprobleeme endid (kliima, õhusaaste), kuid tervendab süsteemi osi (elurikkus, vee- ja pinnaseveesaaste) ning kui kõik tegelevad oma lokaalprobleemidega kohalikult, terveneb süsteem tervikuna.

Milline väärtussüsteem takistab meil siduda linna loodusega üheks tervikuks, lõikamata teda sealt välja? Millises väärtusruumis me liigume, millised on peamised draiverid ja motivaatorid moraalsete otsuste tegemiseks elukeskkonna osas? Mitteantropotsentriliste väärtusotsuste tegemiseks tuleb  väärtusruum lahti mõtestada, kollektiivset väärtussüsteemi analüüsida ja põhjendada, leida alternatiivid pragmatismist ja majanduskasvust juhitud väärtusotsustele, et leida tasakaal ratsionaalse suhtumise ja keskkonnateadlikkuse vahel, võttes arvesse kõiki heaks inimeluks vajalikke aspekte. Kuna keskkonna olukord on juba nii halb, tuleb esikohale seada mitte indiviidi heaolu, vaid inimeste kui liigi, mis tähendab hoopis teistsuguseid otsuseid igal tasandil. Inimene kui liik sõltub looduse hüvedest, ilma ta hukkub. Seega tuleb bioloogilisest vaatepunktist käsitlemist leidvale probleemile töötada välja sotsiaalsed lahendused, mille kaudu mõjutada inimeste väärtussüsteeme. Nende pealt tekivad väärtushinnangud, mis on omakorda aluseks moraalsete ja eetiliste otsuste langetamisel, väärtushierarhia tekkel.



Architecture by Textual and Diagrammatic Abstraction – Forms of Sequencing Practice

Supervisor PhD Jüri Soolep

The PhD thesis is structured as a combinatorial integration of text- and practice-led investigations, where initial spatial ideas and principles will be brought to the foreground in the wider cultural context of architecture and the sciences of other disciplines. I am conducting this research as a somewhat diachronically arranged process, where the defining criteria are not so much tied to exact spatial and time-based constraints, but the ways of building up an architectural idea and its development through time. Within that I am treating recursion in generative systems – a simple replacement and rewriting cascade – as one of the base-modes to achieve this and critically assess, in an architecture practice aimed at building buildings, theory and experimental projects.



Landscape Architecture, Stewardship and the Swan Coastal Plain

Supervisor PhD Maroš Krivy

Landscape architecture’s declaration of  ‘stewardship’ within national and international institutions becomes the starting point for my research. This exploration will address a genealogy of  ‘stewardship’ more broadly, and then to trace the discipline’s understanding of and application of the concept across the Swan Coastal Plain of Western Australia. Where I will unpack the ‘how, why and for whom’ it is being performed.

If the ‘nature’ or environment that is strived to be stewarded is understood as a social construction set within its own particular human history, can ‘stewardship’ be reconceptualised to help formulate grounds for a more progressive landscape architecture practice?



Linna trükkimine. Printing the City


Patterns of compensation


The doctoral thesis examines the value of housing: its economic, social and environmental function. In the Estonian context, housing policy is self-sustaining and largely in the hands of private owners. There is no high-quality social housing infrastructure and a tradition of shared livingspaces. As a result, there are few plans or strategies prepared to address time-critical issues such as housing affordability or environmental issues.

In my doctoral thesis, I ask who should be the one fighting these struggles? Resident, owner, cooperative, community or state? What is the responsibility of the community and what brings people together for a common goal? I look at this problem in the contrasting situation of Estonia: the capital city, where the number of inhabitants has grown by an average of 5,000 people per year during the last ten years, and small towns that are getting smaller every year.


Virtual space: Architecture and digitality

Supervisor PhD Jüri Soolep


Most of our spatial experiences tend to be non-physical. Triggered by visual cues, we are able to place ourselves in different spatial situations by using our past experiences and cultural knowledge. And if spatial experiences do not require our physical presence, what does that entail in regards of architecture in all expanding digital space? Do architects have any say in digital environments, or is it destined to belong in the field of user interface or narrative design?

At the moment there is little discussion about possibilities and experiences in digital environments among architects. Digital solutions are commonplace in the profession, but these are mostly used as tools for fabricating and streamlining planning work with an end-goal in creating physical spaces. But if our digital presence is becoming more important in coming decades, what can architecture contribute?



Is terraced housing, with its densification and modular trajectories, a solution for sustainability in the built environment that also contributes to people-oriented design and well-being? Defining the spatial qualities of the town-house typology that boomed during the first industrial revolution in the UK the research tries to establish it as a source of social sustainability. If the town-house typology is favourable for creating well-being in a densely populated urban environment, which changes in planning legislation do we need to make it an option for North-European countries such as Estonia which may be hosting millions of climate refugees in the decades to come.


The Role of Aesthetics in the Design Philosophy of Structural Engineers of the Modern(ist) Era: August Komendant and Ove Arup

Supervisor PhD Andres Kurg

August Komendant (1906–1992) and Sir Ove Arup (1895–1988) were structural engineers whose collaboration with Louis Kahn, Moshe Safdie, Eero Saarinen, Berthold Lubetkin, Jørn Utzon, and other talented architects resulted in several twentieth-century architectural masterpieces. Both Komendant’s and Arup’s professional career spanned more than half a century from the interwar period to the 1980s and coincided with an era characterised by modernisation, urbanisation, and the rapid development of technology.

The thesis investigates Komendant’s and Arup’s design philosophy and how it was reflected in their projects and buildings. As structural designers they both emphasised the importance of artistic imagination, trust-based teamwork, and high-quality construction. Their professional beliefs were firmly based on scientific knowledge but complemented with a refined sense of aesthetics.


Digital scaling of modular housing platform


The city without rush hour

Doctoral thesis are exploring city as a complex system of various networks. The peak loads are troubling every network and are making them highly inefficient. In addition in the cities when planning according or respecting the peak loads the city environment and public space is being transformed gradually into less livable City and will not meet energy and climate adaptation needs. The main goal of the thesis is to expose those malfunctions and also those cities or networks where good examples of dealing with peak loads exist. The thesis, if successful, would make a statement that streets should not be designed according to car traffic peak loads and lack of accessibility or energy resources is not something to be afraid and it could in some cases transform cities towards better, climate friendly and more efficient cities.


Long view perspective in architecture – extending design life from 50 to 500 years

The research topic of the doctoral thesis is focused on the implementation of long-term service life in architecture. The aim of the research is to think about architecture through change, disturbance, uncertainty in programmatic and structural organization and to cultivate adaptability and resilience in architecture, which would allow architecture to reorganize and recover from change without changing its state.



Urbanizing degrowth: ethnic minorities and urban nature in Tallinn