More efficient building design in the future

(18-01-2022) In his PhD Gieljan Vantyghem investigates how the design process of buildings can be improved by using simultaneous structural and thermal optimization methods.

The design of building envelope components and systems is a process involving many different aspects (structural performance, building physics, sustainability, etc.). After all, the building envelope forms the physical separation between the interior and exterior environments. In many cases, these disciplines are still considered too separately. This means that, for example, the structural performance is optimised, and the thermal requirements are only considered at a second stage. An approach in which these aspects can be optimised simultaneously during the design phase could provide great added value. It could increase the speed of the design process and at the same time the efficiency of the component.

"In my doctoral research, I tried to optimise the design process by studying existing and developing innovative mathematical design techniques," says Gieljan.

"The basic algorithms I used for this are largely based on shape and topology optimisation methods. I elaborated the algorithms theoretically, but also demonstrated their applications and advantages compared to classical design methods in a structural design process. This also took into account the fledgling, but promising, new production methods in the building industry, such as 3D (concrete) printing," concludes Gieljan.

Read the entire PhD


PhD Title: Application of Topology Optimization and 3D Printing in the Construction Industry


ContactGieljan Vantyghem, Veerle Boel, Wouter De Corte, Marijke Steeman

Gieljan Vantyghem, born in Bruges on 26 July 1990, obtained his master's degree in Architecture from LUCA school of Arts in 2013 and two years later his diploma in Civil Engineering Technology, with high distinction, at Ghent University.

His master's thesis was entitled 'Topology optimisation as a design tool for structural engineering applications’ and was conducted under the supervision of Wouter De Corte. For this thesis, he was selected as one of the laureates in the Leo Baekeland Prize, awarded by AIG (the alumni association of engineers graduated from Ghent University).

In October 2015, Gieljan then started as a PhD researcher and full-time assistant at the Department of Structural Engineering and Building Materials at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at Ghent University. As a researcher, he focused on multidisciplinary shape optimisation of architectural structures and building (shell) components. His most eminent scientific findings are situated in the field of "Variable-density multi-physics topology optimization for 3D-printable building structures".

Gieljan was also actively involved in the development of a large-scale concrete printing setup at the Magnel-Vandepitte Laboratory.

During his academic career, Gieljan was a full-time assistant for various lectures and tutorials. He supervised students within the course units: "Engineering Project Construction", "Engineering Design I", "Engineering Design II", "Civil Engineering Design", "Road Construction" and "Computer-Aided Engineering". He also guided several students through their internship and bachelor's thesis, and 32 students through their master's thesis.

Gieljan is author (and coauthor) of 7 A1 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and 7 publications in Proceedings of international conferences. In 2017, he received the "Best Poster Award" at the FEA Research Symposium 2017 presented by the Doctoral Schools of (Bioscience) Engineering. That year, he also won the "Ultimaker Education challenge" in recognition of his commitment to educational innovation in 3D printing technology. In his years as a PhD researcher, he also gave several lectures and keynotes, and participated in several national and international seminars, conferences and symposia.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Final editing: Ilse Vercruysse - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke