About Catherine De Wolf

"I am an academic passionate about environmental architecture and structural engineering. In 2017, I obtained my PhD in Architecture: Building Technology at MIT with Prof. John Ochsendorf. During my PhD, I also worked at the University of Cambridge. I studied Civil Engineering and Architecture at the VUB and the ULB in Belgium, followed by a Masters of Science in Building Technology at MIT in the United States. Throughout my research, I continuously collaborate with designers and practitioners at Arup, Ney & Partners and other inspiring architectural and structural design firms."

To learn more about my background, please see my curriculum vitae.

Disciplines: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Building Technology, Low Carbon Design

Languages: Dutch, French and English

European Commission

Catherine co-organised a webinar on how to use Level(s), a voluntary reporting framework to improve the sustainability of buildings

Swiss Resources Forum

Catherine talked about the principles of circular economy at the Swiss Resources Forum in the Empa Institute

Planet Week

Globally operating architecture and urbanism practice MVRDV invited Catherine to talk at their "Planet Week"

IASS Boston
Hangai Alumni Talks

Hangai Alumni Catherine spoke in a plenary session of the Intenational Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) 

Embodied Carbon in Buildings

Read the Springer book co-edited and co-authored by Catherine: "Embodied Carbon in Buildings: Measurement, Management and Mitigation"

EU Cost Action

Catherine joined the REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy group (RESTORE) and will hold a workshop at Greenbuild Europe

Seminar series
UC Berkeley and Stanford

Join the seminar series on low carbon structural design at ETH Zurich, UC Berkeley, Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University

TEP Venezuela
Trazando Espacios Públicos

Check out the school park built from reused waste materials with the schoolchildren in collaboration with the NGO created by Ana Vargas in Venezuela

The New Carbon Architecture

Read the chapter on embodied carbon research in the new book "The New Carbon Architecture"


Read the latest column on "Timber Architecture" by clicking on Architectura.be

TEDx talk

Watch the TEDx talk on new low carbon materials in Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris on YouTube

Innovators under 35

Catherine was one of the laureats of the Innovators under 35 Belgium Awards

At the boundary of architecture and structure, my research critically reviews the sustainability of the built environment. I collaborate with prestigious academic institutions as well as leading design practices including Arup, Buro Happold, Ney & Partners, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Thornton Tomasetti. I have learned that integrating architecture, structural and environmental engineering remains a vast challenge for building designers. To take on this challenge, I use my interdisciplinary background in civil engineering, architecture and building technology to conduct research in three main areas: life cycle design, structural design, and construction materials.

Here are a few featured journal papers:

Read about low carbon vaulted masonry structures in the Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures

Read the latest journal publication in collaboration with the University of Cambridge in the Energy and Buildings Journal

Read the latest journal publication in collaboration with Arup and Thornton Tomasetti in the ICE Engineering Sustainability Journal

Read a description of the embodied carbon database in the journal publication in The Structural Engineer

From adaptable housing to a sustainable masterplan to retrofit a neighborhood, my designs always respond to the program's needs and to the consciousness of an architectural engineer including sustainability and esthetics. International collaboration is also key: I worked with Arup in London and San Francisco and with Ney & Partners and Modulo Architects in Brussels. I also worked in South Africa on a Local Economical Development (LED) project, retrofitting houses for townships.

Three key philosophies drive my teaching: the common language between architecture and engineering, interactive and project-based learning, and working on real projects from leading industry representatives. Firstly, in the spirit of master builders of the Renaissance, it is necessary to train architecture and engineering students in both analysis and synthesis of the design process. Secondly, learning the principles of architecture and structure hands-on can be taught in design studios. Thirdly, I believe industry's concerns and real projects should be brought into the classroom. I have teaching experience as invited lecturer at MIT, Imperial College of London, EPFL, and Université du Littoral, and as a reviewer for design studios.

Next to my professional career, I am also very interested in arts in a larger sense than architecture. I play piano and I was part of drama societies in Brussels and in Boston. One of our latest productions was "Honni Soit Qui Mal Y Pense", a play in French, Dutch and English. We had the privilege to play in The Théâtre Royal du Parc, a famous historical theater on the edge of the Brussels Park facing the Federal Parliament. My travels also often inspire some photography.

Dr. ir. arch. Catherine De Wolf

Academic at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
PhD in Architecture: Building Technology, Department of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2017, with research exchange at Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, 2016
Master of Science in Building Technology, Department of Architecture, MIT, 2014
Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Architecture, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Livre de Bruxelles (Double Degree), 2012
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Architecture, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Université Livre de Bruxelles (Double Degree), 2010

Contact information: click here to contact Catherine De Wolf.

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Copyright © 2017 Catherine De Wolf, MIT, United States of America.