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Research

The School has laboratories and workshops in which you can begin to carry out research. The EPSEB is also home to multidisciplinary research groups, such as the Interdisciplinary Group on Building Science and Technology and the Building Construction and Heritage Research Group. In addition, several of the professors on the master's degree are involved in the project Knowledge Alliance for Sustainable Mid-Rise and Tall Wooden Buildings (KnoWood), which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme and in which 11 bodies from the following five countries participate: Canada, Denmark, Spain, Lithuania and the United Kingdom.

The master's degree provides access to doctoral programmes at the UPC in the field of building construction, such as the doctoral degree in Architectural, Building Construction and Urbanism Technology.

The following are some of the lines of research in which students on the master's degree can participate, either within a subject or in the production of their master's thesis:

Construction with wood

Wood is a sustainable and renewable material. Its processed products (laminated wood, CLT, etc.) have great features; for this reason, the use of wood in construction is expanding significantly. The EPSEB is involved in the project Knowledge Alliance for Sustainable Mid-Rise and Tall Wooden Buildings (KnoWood), which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme and in which 11 bodies from the following five countries participate: Canada, Denmark, Spain, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. The project aims to promote the construction of mid- and high-rise buildings with wood and seeks the involvement of bachelor's and master's degree students from the universities that are members of the project.

Construction with soil

This line covers aspects of the use of soil as a sustainable and locally sourced construction material: characterisation of aggregates, clays and other components, execution of the construction, analysis of its hygrothermal behaviour, impact from environmental factors, etc. In particular, one of the sub-lines in which students on the master's degree have already participated is the energy rehabilitation of soil constructions by incorporating natural thermal insulators and soil coatings with vegetable fibres; in this way, thermal insulation is increased and the characteristics of low environmental impact and sustainability of soil constructions is maintained.

Natural thermal insulators based on plant by-products

Work is carried out on developing thermal insulation systems for building construction from the pith of the stems of plants such as corn and sunflowers. The pith or medulla is characterised by being extremely light and by its low thermal conductivity. Master's and doctoral degree students participate in this research line. Recently, researchers from the EPSEB and other institutions in Catalonia and France have started the European project SAVASCO, to continue advancing together in this line.

Development and characterisation of lignocellulosic materials

In addition to wood and pith, as mentioned above, many lignocellulosic materials can be used in construction. Some examples are bamboo, reeds, cork, peanut and nut shells, olive stones and seaweed. In the EPSEB's laboratories we work on their characterisation and analysis, in many cases with the participation of students on the master’s degree in Advanced Building Construction.

Green façades and roofs

Green façades and coverings are a construction solution that can provide a variety of benefits to buildings: thermal, acoustic and/or stormwater management improvements. The EPSEB's Interdisciplinary Group on Building Science and Technology (GICITED) collaborates with the administration (Barcelona City Council and Barcelona Metropolitan Area) to establish measurement protocols and actively participate in projects related to the implementation of green spaces in the city's buildings.

Development and innovation in construction materials

Various projects are under way that are related to the characterisation of materials such as natural cement, lime, lime paints, magnesium materials, plaster and geopolymers. Construction solutions such as continuous paving, hydraulic mosaics and artificial stone, shrinkage-compensating additives for concrete, and lime concrete are being developed.

Waste management and valorisation

Construction and demolition waste is mainly inert waste that is mostly made up of aggregates mixed with remnants of concrete, stone, glass, metals, wood, ceramics, different types of plastics and other materials in smaller quantities. EPSEB researchers work on fostering its reuse, particularly by designing strategies for the management and implementation of measures for the containment and use of waste and analysing the feasibility of reusing defective ceramic waste as a coarse aggregate in lime concrete.

Use of plaster

When we think about the use of plaster in construction, we always think of it as a binding material that is affected by water and that can therefore not be used outdoors. The built heritage in areas in which gypsum is naturally present shows us the opposite: we find constructions two or even three centuries old that are exposed to the weather. This line of research explores the characteristics of plaster and its use in construction. Practical experiments to reproduce it and use it in rehabilitation interventions and even in new constructions are carried out with the participation of students on the master’s degree in Advanced Building Construction.

Characterisation and improvement of fire behaviour of wood and other lignocellulosic materials

Wood, cork, bamboo and all lignocellulosic materials in general are affected by temperature and may burn in the event of a fire. Their behaviour depends on characteristics such as density and mineral content. In this line we work on characterising materials and products and improving their behaviour by adding flame retardants.

Fire spread across façades

Fire spreading across façades is one of the fastest ways in which a fire can spread in a building. Therefore, measures for limiting the spread of fire across a building is a very important aspect to consider, particularly with reference to high-rise buildings. This line of work focuses on assessing the influence of the configuration, design and materials of façades in the spreading of fires by combining the experimental analysis of materials and computer simulations.

 

Website for the scientific production of the EPSEB researchers