Mass-customization of affordable and sustainable housing

School of Technology and Architecture, ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal

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Dr. Alexandra Paio


Dr. Eduardo de Miguel, School of Architecture, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain

Dr. Núria Martí, School of Architecture La Salle, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain


CASAIS, Braga, Portugal

School of Architecture, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain

School of Architecture La Salle, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain

Research project

Many of today's approaches to housing delivery still use inappropriate construction methods and implementation procedures that are often inefficient and unsustainable. Mass customization can help make housing sustainable and affordable by integrating social, economic and environmental criteria, particularly in the early stages of the design process. Computerized design methods combined with digital manufacturing processes are the backbone of the mass customization paradigm. In fact, file-to-factory process can help maximize the efficiency and speed of construction without reducing scope or increasing costs, thus contributing to a more sustainable home building sector.

However, despite the widespread use of digital technology in other areas of building manufacturing, the application of mass customization in housing design and construction remains slow. In order to accelerate this process, it is necessary to understand how mass customization could make housing more affordable and sustainable, and how the involvement of all stakeholders in this process could impact current design and construction practices.

The research work includes secondments in the School of Architecture La Salle, Barcelona, and the School of Architecture in Valencia to study construction systems; and at CASAIS construction company, Braga, to study industrialized construction systems and get access to data related to construction sector in Portugal.

->To conduct an individual research project, interlinked with the other ESRs projects, focusing on:
  • Analysis of current building methods for customized affordable and sustainable housing design industrial applications;
  • Definition of sustainable criteria for constructive solutions;
  • Testing methodologies and tools for mass-customization through advanced digital fabrication technologies;
  • Develop a framework Involving construction companies and architects to test policy approaches for alternative housing solutions;
  • Develop and implement a workflow for modular adaptable building method for mass-customization of affordable and sustainable housing.
->To participate in the network-wide activities (workshops, summer schools, conferences)
->To carry out the training required by the PhD programme of the host university.

As part of the individual research project, ESRs will carry out three secondments, each of 2 months, in the partner organisations.

ESRs are expected to have completed a doctoral thesis that can be defended at the host institution within or shortly thereafter the project lifetime.

Specific requirements
->Masters’ degree in Architecture or equivalent
->Experience with BIM software and digital fabrication technologies
->It is desirable that candidates have professional experience in housing design and construction with industrialized procedures
Generic requirements

The candidates must fulfil the eligibility and mobility requirements of the Marie Curie ITN programme:

To be eligible for recruitment within an ITN project, you therefore must – at the date of recruitment – be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree. Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when you obtained the degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained, or in the country in which you are recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged. You may therefore be required to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment.
You are therefore required to undertake transnational mobility in order to be eligible for recruitment in an ITN project. As such, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the country where you have been recruited "for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date"5. Holidays are not counted. Your employer is required to verify this fact, therefore you may be required to provide supporting documentation proving your place(s) of residence or work during the previous 3 years. Note that the mobility rule applies only to your first recruitment within the project, and not to other organisations to which you might be sent on secondment or at which you may subsequently also be recruited. Finally, the mobility rule is related to your residence or main activity and not to your nationality.

Please find here more information about the requirements for Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellows in Innovative Training Networks (ITN)

About us

ISCTE is a high-quality public research-oriented university being among the 150 best young universities in the world (The Young University Rankings 2017), has about 9,000 students, half of them in doctoral and master programs. With a multidisciplinary approach, it is one of the most dynamic and innovative institutions in Portugal, running more than one hundred international projects with several research, public and private organizations. Researchers at ISCTE fulfil the mission of producing scientific knowledge and participating in international agendas and networks for the advancement of knowledge in the Institute’s areas of expertise.

ISTAR-IUL - Information Sciences and Technologies and Architecture Research Center has the mission to carry out applied and multidisciplinary research in the convergence of areas like Computer Science and Information Technologies, Mathematics (applied to computational problems), Architecture and Urbanism (theory, modelling, simulation or fabrication). Several research projects are carried out in Digital Living Spaces group, involving experts and communities.


The Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme offers highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions which include:

->a living allowance (2,753 Euros per month)
->a monthly mobility allowance (600 Euros per month)
->a family allowance (if applicable, 500 Euros per month)

These allowances are used to cover the gross salary, employers’ compulsory deductions and benefits for the three years of the Marie Curie programme. The living allowance is a gross EU contribution to the salary costs of the full-time researcher. The family allowance is an estimated average that will be adapted to the specific conditions of the hired researcher. All three subsidies are subject to the deduction of compulsory social security contributions and income taxes in accordance with the regulations applicable in the country of the host institution. At the end of the three-year contract any possible difference between the gross amounts paid and the amount to be paid according to the programme will be equalized.

Enrolment fees in the PhD programme of the host institution will be covered by the programme during the 36-month period.


Please use this form to provide the following information:

->personal data
->confirmation of compliance with the eligibility and mobility requirements

And the required documentation:

->letter of motivation (maximum 2 pages)
->CV in EUROPASS format
->certificate of English proficiency
->transcripts of your academic degrees (translated into English, by a sworn translator; including ranking of degree classification)
->a research proposal in line with the ESR project (maximum 6 pages), for each ESR project you would like to apply (maximum three)
->if applicable, a professional portfolio
->two reference letters

Prof. Alexandra Paio (

More information

PhD programme at ISTA – School of Technology and Architecture, ISCTE-IUL

Working at ISCTE- IUL

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