PhD Projects

Here are the ongoing and finalized PhD projects related to SOD..



New PhD coming in 2020





Helge Tor Kristiansen is PhD candidate financed by a maritime project at HiALS who is based at AHO for doing the PhD.


Finishing 2020-2021




Manuela Aguirre

Finalized june 2020

Institution: Oslo School of arcitecture and Design

Main supervisor: Birger Sevaldson

Second supervisor: Andrew Morrison.


Manuela Aguirre PhD Thesis 2020 for web view.pdf


Read more and wach video form the dissertation here.


Manuela Aguirre is a PhD fellow at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design researching the role of Systems and Service Oriented Design in the Public Sector.  She is also dedicated part-time to the Systems Oriented Design course this fall semester 2013.  Before starting her PhD studies, Manuela was working in the intersection between health care and design thinking at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  As a service designer within Mayo Clinic´s Center for Innovation´s group, she worked on a diverse range of projects, spanning from practice redesign, experimenting with different outpatient care models to visioning activities with Mayo Clinic leadership on defining what is the future of Connected Care – and how will Mayo Clinic position itself in that new space.

Manuela has participated in the Global Service Jam twice, first by being a “jammer” in Oslo and then by co-hosting the Twin Cities first Global Service Jam in 2013.

Coming from an integrated design background, Manuela has progressively been more engaged in the Design for Social Innovation work and researching minority social groups.  Her Master Thesis, Designing for Dignity, done in collaboration with Jan Kristian Strømsnes, addressed the needs of a Sexual Assault Survivor (SAS) throughout their medical and legal care, by designing a holistic spectrum of system interventions.  In 2013, Designing for Dignity received the Young Talent Award given by the Norwegian Design Council and the Core77 Service Design Student Runner-Up recognition.



Aguirre M., Agudelo N, and Romm J (2016) Facilitating generative emergence within large-scale networks: Unpacking six dimensions of design practice. In Jones P. ed. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) 2016 Symposium. Toronto Canade October 13-15, 2016

Article found here: >>>>>


Aguirre M., Paulsen A., (2014) Using material properties to understand and shape relationships in public and social services. Working Paper in Sevaldson B., Jones P., RSD3 Proceedings: Relating Systems Thinking and design 2014, AHO Oslo.
Working paper: >>>>>


Aguirre M. & Vink J. (2013) Catalyzing Systemic Transformations in Health Care: Lessons learned by design practitioners at Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation, Working Paper, in Sevaldson B. and Jones P., Eds, RSD2: Emerging Contexts for Systemic Design: Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2013 Symposium Proceedings, AHO, Oslo
Working paprer >>>>>
Abstract and presentation  >>>>>

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Jairo da Costa Junior 

defended his doctoral thesis at the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE)

Main supervisor was Professor Jan-Carel Diel

Thesis COVER Front



Embracing the complexity of energy challenges in low-income markets

The thesis is based on SOD as one of the most important platforms of this study. 

Excerpt from the summary:

The societal and technical problems faced by low-income markets are increasingly seen as more complex due to environmental, social, and economic concerns. The enormous negative impacts of societal problems and the inability of designers to deal with complexity cannot be overcome without a paradigm shift in how we understand, engage with, and teach about such issues. In light of this challenge, one can pose the question, “What is the best approach to deal with a complex societal problem?” A traditional approach to deal with a complex problem is to simplify it. Alternatively, as here, research may aim to provide a novel approach to handle complex societal problems, thereby embracing complexity. Thus, this research contends that embracing complexity represents a significant shift from the traditional design approach to a systems design approach for sustainable development.

Go to the thesis web page.

Marie Davidova


Marie Davidová,

Finalized 2018

Institution: Czech Technical University in Prague – Faculty of Architecture MOLAB Department

Main Supervisor: Miloš Florián

Secondary supervisor: Birger Sevaldson

The present research considers wood as a study material for a wider question on architecture’s environmental interaction. It aims to explore its potential for eco-systemic performances and atmospheres as well as to broaden the discussion on this problem area by accessing the public space and professional practice calls. My project researches such interactions through practical experiments as well as theoretical reflections, including examinations of other scientific, design, artistic and crafts disciplines. It honestly discusses the successes as well as the failures and weak points to develop a strong background for eco-systemic collaborative design-research practice. The methodology Research by Design while full scale prototyping is covered by the Systems Oriented Design to interpret and develop complex environmental relations. While doing so, this work also claims develop the methodology itself and to generate theory through experimental practice. The fusion of these process based fields led to the ratification of new design field: Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance . This is an article based thesis , where the texts of the articles have been shortened of the parts mentioned elsewhere in the work and underwent through language check. These serve as an addendum covered with an exegesis. Most of the repeating images were removed from the articles. If there is an exception this is reasoned through its important relation to the present text. All substantial contributions are mentioned within the text and/or summarized in the Thanks chapter. To mention the main institutions and practice/NGO’s respectively, this research has been collaboratively developed at the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague, the Faculty of Art and Architecture at the Technical University of Liberec, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, the Architectural Institute Prague, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, the Faculty of Civil Engineering the Czech Technical University in Prague, Collaborative Collective, Defio, Oximoron, re.code.nature, CooLAND, Experis SDKM and reSITE. This work is a second, revised edition of the thesis, when the first, work in progress, publication called Wood as a Primary Medium to Architectural Performance: A Case Study in Performance Oriented Architecture Approached through Systems Oriented Design (Davidová, 2016m) served as a tool to receive broader feedback from its readers. The first publication was kindly supported by EEA and Norway Grants through the project Systemic Approach to Architectural Performance, was printed on paper with 100% of recycled fibre. This edition was reviewed by a gender equal team and is to be defended in front of a gender equal selection of opponents. The work itself is dedicated to our Biosphere.



Marie Davidova. is a founding member and chair of Collaborative Collective, z.s., PhD research fellow at the Faculty of Art and Architecture at the Technical University in Liberec and scientific consultant in studio FLO|W at the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague. She gained her master degree in architecture at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Marie had been working as an architect in studios Snøhetta and Expology in Oslo and teaching as a university lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. She had been visiting studio course leader at the Architectural Institute in Prague and at the Faculty of Art and Architecture at the Technical University in Liberec in the cooperation with Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.



Read more about this project here >>>>>




Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel

Finalized 2017

Institution: Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Main supervisor: Birger Sevaldson

Defne thesis cover small


Adaptive design is an architectural process by which available materials and local environments are adapted to changing design requirements. In traditional architecture, this process is effective but implicit and slow. Computer-aided architectural design (CAAD) lacks common and granular data models, intelligence capabilities and informatics tools that can assist, advance and accelerate it. This information, technology and process gap can be filled with an ontology (MatOnt) tailored for design. The aim of MatOnt is to add a new process to turn CAAD into CAAAD, that is computer-aided adaptive architectural design. CAAAD's strategic importance for sustainability-focused research and practice comes from enhanced ability to access advantageous new or alternative design pathways for targeted architectural development, and better customised, localized application and environmental impact. A particular role of this convergence-based biomimetic model and ontology-based informatics tool is to support experimentation. Nested Catenaries is a research-by-design project developed within this framework, which focuses on an adaptation of the convergent trait (catenary) to deliver a property combination that marks an innovation in unreinforced masonry shells.


Defne Sunguroğlu Hensel [MSc EmTech AA Dipl RIBA II] (born 1979, İstanbul, Turkey) is an architect, interior architect, principle researcher and currently a board member in OCEAN Research and Design Association (2008) and research fellow at AHO (2008-2012). Currently she pursues her PhD entitled; Multiple Performance Integration Model for a Generative Design Process Based on Wood and Clay Based Systems.



Sigrun Lurås

 Finalized in January 2016

Institution: Oslo School of Architecture and Design

Main supervisor. Birger Sevaldson

Second supervisor Kjetil Nordby

Sigrun Lurås is a Ph.D. Fellow in Systems Oriented Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. She holds a Master in Industrial Design Engineering from NTNU in 2005. She also has two years of Engineering Cybernetics studies at undergraduate level and upgrading courses in Human Factors and Psychology. Prior to starting on her Ph.D. Sigrun worked as an interaction designer and human factors specialist. Sigrun is particularly interested in design for safety critical systems, and her Ph.D. project addresses how Systems Oriented Design can be used to design for enhanced situation awareness on the bridge of offshore support vessels.



Thesis Sigrun Luras.pdf

 Download thesis here

 In recent years designers seem to increasingly be engaged in projects for complex, high-risk domains. Yet, little research has been conducted that addresses how designers experience such projects, what kinds of challenges they face, and how they may manage these challenges. This thesis addresses the design in one such domain: the offshore ship industry. The presumptions for the thesis are that designing for such contexts is complex and that systemic design approaches may prove valuable. Systemic design is a recent initiative in design that integrates systems thinking and human-centred design, with the intention of helping designers cope with complex design projects.The aim of the thesis is to understand designing for complex, high-risk control environments, and how systemic design may be of help when designing for such contexts. This has been investigated through ‘research by design’ that addresses the design of a ship’s bridge, and by an interview study with industrial and interaction designers with experience in the maritime and offshore industries. Research by design is a research approach where design practise is at the core of research. The design practise of this thesis was carried out within the Ulstein Bridge Concept (UBC) design research project.The thesis confirms that designing for the offshore ship industry is complex and challenging on many fronts. First, the domain is unfamiliar to most designers, and acquiring the insights needed for designing requires substantial effort. Second, the products to be designed constitute highly advanced technology that is used in complex, uncertain, and high-risk situations. Third, the industry is global; it has many stakeholders and is highly regulated, both of which make the framework conditions for offshore-specific design projects difficult to grasp.In the thesis, systemic design is conceptualised by a systemic model of the design situation that makes explicit what designers need to make sense of in such projects. The operationalisation of systemic design was conducted within the UBC project and includes the development of two systemic design methods: design-driven field research at sea and layered scenario mapping. Further, the designs developed by UBC, the Ulstein Bridge Vision™, can serve as design exemplars resulting from systemic approaches.This is a thesis by publication, which consists of an exegesis (included as Part 1) and six publications (included as Part 2). The exegesis presents the research design and theoretical perspectives that are used, and includes an overarching reflection on the results of the thesis that binds the publications together

Other publications:

Lurås S 2016 Systems Intertwined: A systemic view on the design situation. Design Issues, Vol. 32, No. 3, Pages: 30-41, MIT press  >>>>> 


Lurås S., Lützhöft M., Sevaldson B., (2015) Meeting the complex and unfamiliar: Lessons from design in the offshore industries. International Journal of Design.
Full paper: >>>>>


Lurås s., Nordby K., Radical Design Processes for Systemic Change, in Sevaldson B. and Jones P., Eds, RSD2: Emerging Contexts for Systemic Design: Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2013 Symposium Proceedings, AHO, Oslo.
Working paper >>>>>
Abstract and presentation  >>>>>