Sofie Pelsmakers



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I have dedicated the past two decades to teaching, designing and researching sustainable architecture with specialty in inclusive, 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 housing adaptations to respond to a changing climate and changing demographics and user needs (e.g. ageing population). I love being on site, surveying buildings and collecting data, including the use of in-situ U-value measuring techniques. Throughout my work I seek out and thrive in collaborative environments that put diversity, equality, inter-disciplinarity and co-creation at the centre.

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 and to Full Professor in February 2023. 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 and the Western Finland Housing Foundation(2020-2022) and follow-on project Kotiluontoon (2023, older adults' homes and nature connections); T-Winning Spaces 2035: Working from Home and digital transition (Academy of Finland funded 2023-2025); RESCUE: Real Estate and Sustainable Crisis Management in Urban Environments, Academy of Finland (2020-2023); INPERSO (personalized and user centric low carbon housing adaptations), funded by Horizon Europe (2022-2026), JUSTHEAT (history of home heating and a just future green transition, funded by the Academy of Finland, 2022-2025). Other project collaborations include the 'Future of Senior Housing' (2023-2025- co-funded by ARA, municipalties and housing companies) and I am board member of STUE - Sustainable Transformation of Urban Environments (PROFI 6, 2021-2026) and member of CLL - Century  Long Lives (PROFI 7, 2023-2028). 

I also lead the Erasmus+ funded international consortium 'ARCH4CHANGE: Digital climate emergency curriculum for architectural education- methods towards carbon neutrality' (2020-2023). It aims to tackle skills, knowledge and value gaps by increasing student and educator knowledge about responding to climate change, going beyond basic and fragmented sustainability knowledge in architecture. This is linked to ARCH4FUTURE (Finnish Ministry of Culture funded). For more info on all projects see here.

To date I have (co)authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications, including a sole-authored book (The Environmental Design Pocketbook, Ed 1: 2012, Ed 2: 2015; Edition 3 due in 2024; RIBA). I am co-author of peer-reviewed 'People, Energy, Buildings- Making Sustainable Architecture Work' (2021, RIBA) and lead author of 'Designing for the Climate Emergency: A Guide for Architecture Students(RIBA). I also co-guest-edited the first volume of the RIBA Design Studio Journal: 'Architecture and the Climate Emergency: Everything Needs to Change' (2021) and am co-guest editor of Routledge research book 'Architectural thinking and the climate emergency' (2023/24).

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 was an Associate Editor of peer reviewed journal Buildings and Cities (2020-2022) and was External Examiner at Cambridge University (Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment masters, 2018-2021), and Visiting Professor at the Sheffield School of Architecure (2021- present). I acted as a reviewer for the Swedish Research Funding Council FORMAS (Sustainable urban and rural development, 2018-2021), the ERC (2022), Swiss National Funding Council (2023), Candanian Chair (2023) and for several conferences (Sustainable Built Environment, ATUT, PLEA etc), and for several journals such as Energy and Buildings, BRI, ICE, BSERT, NJAR, Journal of Architecture, Architectural Research Finland etc. I also regularly peer-review book proposals and book manuscripts for RIBA and Routledge. I am faculty representative on the Professor's Council (2020-present) and was a key contributor to the school's RAE (resarch assessment excercise, 2022).

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)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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

Visiting Professor Sheffield School of Architecture, University of Sheffield

2021 → …

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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