Sofie Pelsmakers



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I have dedicated the past two decades to teaching, designing and researching sustainable architecture with specialty in ecological, low energy and affordable housing design and housing adaptations and transformations. I am particularly interested in how buildings and spaces work in reality and how buildings are used and change over time (i.e. actual performance and user satisfaction). ). This includes spatial and environmental building adaptations to respond to a changing climate and changing demographics and user needs (e.g. ageing population).

I am an architect by training, in addition to which I completed an MSc Architecture in Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies (UEL, 2000), and a Masters in Research in Building Energy Demand Reduction at UCL (Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, 2012), where I also completed my PhD (2016). I bring experience from practice (e.g. Levitt Bernstein Architects and ECD Architects), and from the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark (2018-19), the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment (University College London, 2011-2016), as well as the Sheffield School of Architecture (2015-2018), and the University of East London (UEL, 2001-2011). I joined Tampere University part-time as Assistant Professor in autumn 2018 (while part-time at the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark), joining Tampere University full-time in August 2019, and being promoted to Associate Professor in July 2021. I have been honoured to represent and chair the sustainable housing design research group at Tampere University (ASUTUT).

Current research projects focus on current and anticipated societal and environmental challenges, and the resilience and capacity of people and living environments to respond to, and adapt to these changes, now and in the future. Projects include 'Housing in Change', funded by YH Kodit; Working from Home (with Aalto University and Milan Polytech university), Nordic Sustainable Housing Design (with colleagues in Denmark), Carbon Neutral Development Through Net Zero and Net Impact Design (with Ming Hu, Maryland University Fulbright visiting scholar), and RESCUE: Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments, Academy of Finland funded research led by Aalto university. 

I also lead the Erasmus+ funded international consortium 'ARCH4CHANGE: Digital climate emergency curriculum for architectural education- methods towards carbon neutrality'. It aims to tackle skills gaps by increasing student and educator knowledge about responding to climate change, going beyond basic and fragmented sustainability knowledge in architecture. For more info on all projects see here.

To date I have (co)authored 34 peer-reviewed publications: 24 journal and conference papers, 7 peer-reviewed chapters, sole authore of (peer-reviewed) book (The Environmental Design Pocketbook, Ed 1: 2012, Ed 2: 2015; Edition 3 due in 2023; Riba Publishing). I am co-author of peer-reviewed 'People, Energy, Buildings- Making Sustainable Architecture Work' (2021, RIBA) and lead author of the forthcoming peer-reviewed book 'Designing for the Climate Emergency: A Guide for Architecture Students'. I also co-guest-edited the first volume of the RIBA Design Studio Journal: 'Architecture and the Climate Emergency: Everything Needs to Change' (2021).

Additionally, I (co)-authored another 7 book chapters and have contributed over 50 industry articles and invitations for keynote speeches, guest presentations, or other invited scientific or industry roles. This included periodic engagement with the UK government Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC/DBEIS).

I am an Associate Editor of peer reviewed journal Buildings and Cities, and was External Examiner at Cambridge University (Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment masters, 2018-2021), and Visiting Professor at the Sheffield Schoolo f Architecure (2021- present). I acted as a reviewer for the Swedish Research Funding Council FORMAS (Sustainable urban and rural development, 2018-2021) and for several conferences (Sustainable Built Environment, PLEA etc), and for several journals such as Energy and Buildings, BRI, ICE, BSERT, NJAR, Journal of Architecture etc. I am faculty representative on the Professor's Council.

I am a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy in recognition of my pedagogical approaches, and I also hold pedagogical training certificates from Denmark and Finland in support of student-centred learning. Some of my pedagogical approaches for embedding sustainability in design courses and use of peer-peer and blended learning have also been published.

Recognition of my work includes being one of the Architect's Journal Climate Champions (podcast interview here, 2020), Bartlett PhD Alumni Role model (2017), RIBA Role Model (2015), Women influencing sustainability in architecture (Architects journal, 2013), recognition for the Environmental Design Pocketbook (RIBA, 2012 and UKGBC, 2013).

Note: Activities listed here only include those up until 2016, with a selection of activities until 2014, and older activities are excluded. 


Language skills

English (proficient)

Dutch (mother tongue)

French, German, Indonesian/Malay (basic)

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Philosophy (Natural Sciences), University College London

2016 → …

Award Date: 28 Jul 2016

Master of Science, University College London

2012 → …

Award Date: 1 Oct 2012

Other or Unknown Education, Level of Education Unknown, Kingston University

2006 → …

Award Date: 1 Oct 2006

Master of Architecture, University of East London

2003 → …

Award Date: 1 Jul 2003

Master of Science (Architecture), University of East London

2000 → …

Award Date: 8 Dec 2000

Bachelor of Arts

1997 → …

Award Date: 1 Aug 1997

External positions

Associate Editor Buildings & Cities

2019 → …

Funding Reviewer Swedish Research Funding Council (Panel 9), FORMAS

2018 → …

External Examiner Masters Interdisciplinary Design in the Built Environment, Cambridge University , University of Cambridge

2017 → …

Social Media Editor Building Research and Information


Head of Research at ECD architects


Member of the Association of Environmentally Conscious Builders (AECB)


  • TH Building construction
  • Sustainability
  • Architecture
  • low energy
  • housing design
  • environmental design
  • retrofit
  • performance


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