Tim L. Michiels

Tim Michiels is a PhD candidate in the Form Finding Lab where he researches the behavior of shell structures subjected to natural disasters such as earthquakes. He develops methods to design resilient shell structures using local soil. Earth construction has historically been one of the most widely employed construction materials in the world, but has largely fallen out of use in North-America and Europe over the past century. It does, however, have tremendous potential as a building material today, when energy conservation in construction is becoming increasingly critical. Earth is an abundant natural resource that can typically be amassed on site or from a nearby location, often free of cost or for a limited transportation fee. Thus, earthen buildings have practically no ecological footprint, in contrast to those built with more typically employed materials. The goal of Tim’s PhD is to prove that earth is incredibly durable and earthen buildings can be designed to withstand earthquakes. Tim is furthermore convinced that by studying and preserving constructions from the past, we can improve the built environment of the future. Thus besides his focus on shells made from sustainable materials, he also focuses on the analysis of historic structures.