PhD position - Architectural Encounters with AI: The New Data-driven Landscapes of Indoor Horticulture in the Dutch Delta System

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 28 Jun 2021

Are Dutch agricultural technologies the new Superdutch? Automated indoor environments conceived in The Netherlands diffuse globally as the mirror to what the future of food production could look like. History has shown that technological innovations in agriculture have fundamentally changed the structure of the built environment. It can therefore be assumed that the application of automation and AI technologies in this sector will also transform cities and landscapes. This project aims to investigate how the digitization of these processes impact the spatial organization of landscapes and the lives of many, and the dilemmas and opportunities for design and sustainable urbanization that arise.

You will systematically investigate the spatial implications of automation and AI technologies used in agriculture across scales and interfaces between human and machine, from the territory to the buildings and people within. Following a historical study of technologically-driven transformations of the Dutch agricultural landscape, and the analysis of selected automated environments and closed systems—from plantation models to space research experiments—you will develop three case studies of contemporary data-driven agriculture in The Netherlands. The case studies will focus on the spatial and cultural interplay of architecture, landscape, and digital infrastructure. For that, you will originally integrate architectural, media and environmental history research, with open-source intelligence methodologies, fieldwork, and analytical drawing and mapping. The contribution of this research will be threefold: 1) anticipate the implications for sustainable urbanization of the digital transition in productive environments; 2) develop transdisciplinary methods to investigate the cultural and ecological significance of the digitization of the environment; and 3) make a fundamental step towards the still unwritten architectural history of artificial intelligence.

You will be part of the Section of Urban Design in the department of Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built environment. The Section follows a multidisciplinary approach in research and design, with a focus on challenges of urbanisation in the context of larger transformative processes such as climate change, demography and technological change. In particular, your PhD project will be embedded in a cooperation between the research on work landscapes of Assistant Professor Dr. Víctor Muñoz Sanz at the Section of Urban Design, with that of Prof. Dr. Georg Vrachliotis at the Theory of Architecture and Digital Culture Group, in the Department of Architecture. They will be your supervisory team. At TU Delft, you will be part of community that fosters cross-fertilization between talents with different expertise and disciplines. You will be encouraged to connect to the TU Delft Robotics Institute, TU Delft AI Labs, and the Health and Technology cluster of the Delft-Erasmus Convergence.

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