Research students

  1. Yijun (Kathy) Chen

    Email: yijun.chen1@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Transportation induced damage to prefabricated structure
    Synopsis:
    Prefabricating structure is a modern construction method that has been popularly adopted recently in construction industry. Considering the fact that prefabricated structural elements are normally bulky and brittle (made by reinforced concrete), damages and failure of structural components have been constantly reported during transportation and lifting processes when elements are delivered from prefabrication workshop to construction site. This research is proposed to investigate the response and damage pattern of prefabricated structures due to vibration during transportation and lifting processes, aiming to derive a simplified analysis and design method for "safe" transportation of prefabricated structures and possible mitigation techniques to reduce and eliminate transportation induced vibration.
    Supervisors:

    Prof Hong Hao

    Dr Xihong Zhang

    Qualifications:

    Master of Civil Engineering (with Distinction), the University of Western Australia

  2. Bernard Gibson

    Email: gibsonb1@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Acoustic metamaterials for structure-borne sound isolation in multi-storey timber buildings
    Synopsis:
    Existing approaches to structure-borne sound isolation between adjacent tenancies in multi-storey timber buildings are ineffective between 20 and 120Hz. Unlike steel and concrete structures, timber structures propagate a significant amount of sound in this range. This degrades perceived building performance. Traditionally, large and/or heavy isolation units have been required to attenuate vibrations at such low frequencies, making the problem impractical to solve. However a new approach employing distributions of small, independently resonating masses within existing structures has been shown to dramatically decrease low frequency propagation across wide frequency ranges. Further, geometries that amplify the motion of these masses can enhance this effect to achieve previously unobtainable levels of attenuation in targeted frequency ranges with minimal additional mass. This research proposes to extend that work by developing an inertial amplification-based metamaterial approach for the design of a cost effective, practically manufacturable system that limits propagation of 20–120Hz structure-borne frequencies between tenancies in multi-storey timber buildings.
    Supervisors:

    Dr David Heath

    Dr Benoit Belleville

    Prof Priyan Mendis

    Qualifications:

    BEng (Mech) Hons

  3. Alexandra McRobert

    Email: alexandra.mcrobert@sydney.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Prefabricating Affordability: Industrialised construction and its effects on housing affordability in Australia
    Synopsis:

    Alexandra McRobert is a PhD Candidate at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, where her research focuses on the role of industrialised construction practices in housing affordability. This research posits that the holistic nature of prefabricated housing companies have the ability to tackle the multi-faceted issues faced with housing affordability from development through to design and construction.

    Alexandra’s research is informed by her work in the architecture industry as an architectural graduate and project coordinator. Her projects encompassed housing across a number of scales from granny flats through to large mixed-use sustainable developments. Through her studies and career, Alexandra has also completed a number of design and practical studios in developing countries internationally, looking at socially sustainable housing and communities.

    Supervisors:

    Mathew Aitchison

    Sarah Breen Lovett

    Robyn Dowling

    Qualifications:

    Bachelor of Design (Architecture)

    Master of Architecture

  4. Roberto Minunno

    Email: roberto.minunno@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Application of the principles of the Circular Economy framework to prefabricated buildings
    Synopsis:

    This research explores the application of the Circular Economy (CE) framework to prefabricated buildings. The first step is a systematic literature review of the CE and Material Flow Accounting (MFA) of building materials and components. The second step explores the adaptability of buildings, fundamental in reducing material consumption. The third step consists of applying the CE framework to two case studies—a modular classroom and a hotel. It starts with their complete LCA, thus, this third step merges the understanding of adaptability principles and the LCA of the case studies. The fourth step consists of creating a model that, from the CE of the two case studies generalises the CE principles more broadly to the modular building industry. Finally, the fifth step aims the environmental and economic advantages of the application of the CE framework and how both producers and consumers benefit from its adoption.

    Supervisors:

    Prof Greg Morrison

    Dr Jemma Green

    Qualifications:

    Master of structural engineering

  5. Sareh Naji

    Email: snaji@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Effects of Envelope Design Variables on Indoor Environmental Quality of Prefabricated Houses in Australia
    Synopsis:
    The ever-increasing attention towards implementation of environmentally sustainable building design approaches necessitates the prediction of energy consumption and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) during design stage. Prefabrication is a growing industry in Australia offering benefits by reducing cost, on-site construction time and waste. It is important to investigate the effects of using lightweight prefabricated components on overall performance of prefabricated building. The aim of this study is to assess the effects of envelope design variables on life cycle costs (LCC) and IEQ of prefabricated houses in different climate zones of Australia. For this purpose, Building Performance Optimisations with multi-objectives in the early stages of design have been conducted. This research is being funded by a Research Training Program Scholarship and CAMPH.
    Supervisors:

    Assoc Prof Lu Aye

    Assoc Prof Masa Noguchi

    Qualifications:

    MSc (Environmental Control and Construction Technology)

    BSc (Civil Engineering)

    Publications:

    Naji, S., Aye, L., Noguchi, M., Sensitivity analysis of building envelope parameters affecting thermal comfort, in Proceedings of ZEMCH2018 International Conference, Melbourne, 29 January–1 February 2018, pp. 719–731.

    Naji, S., Ployet, V., Noguchi, M., Aye, L., Thermal performance of prefabricated modular buildings in Australia: A baseline study. In Proceedings of World Sustainable Built Environment Conference, Hong Kong, 5–7 June 2017, pp. 861–867.

    Naji, S., Samarasinghe, T., Aye, L.,2016, Effects of shading design options on thermal and daylighting performance of a modular house in Melbourne, in Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment, Sri Lanka, 16–18 December 2016, pp. 43–52.

  6. Tim O’Grady

    Email: timothy.ogrady@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Testing the circular economy principals in the prefabricated construction industry
    Synopsis:
    Develop a closed loop supply chain in the prefabrication industry by designing modular buildings to be resilient, adaptable and transportable structures that are designed for component level disassembly.
    Supervisors:

    Greg Morrison

    Heap-Yih (John) Chong

    Qualifications:

    B. Applied Science (Hons) Construction Management

  7. Kristopher Orlowski

    Email: oka@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Development of an innovative timber based prefabricated panelised system
    Synopsis:
    Working closely with an industry partner to develop an innovative timber based prefabricated panelised system. The aim of this thesis is to understand current limitations and develop verified solutions to advance the use of this novel form of construction and the understanding the knowledge behind it. Areas of study in prefabrication include fa├žade, waterproofing, floor and wall systems.
    Supervisors:

    Prof Priyan Mendis

    Dr Shanaka Baduge

    Dr David Heath

    Prof Tuan Ngo

    Qualifications:

    MEng

    BaSc (Civil Systems)

    Publications:

    Orlowski, K. (2017). Synchronization of sustainable development with land development. Sustainable Development Research at Universities in the Asia-Pacific, World Sustainability Series, Springer

  8. Fraser Paxton

    Email: fpaxton@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Design for Lean Manufacture of Low Cost Housing
    Synopsis:

    This research is aimed at reducing the time and cost involved in multi storey building manufacture. It is geared towards panelised and volumetric solutions and examines the application of lean principles to an offsite building manufacture environment.

    The research will focus on quantitative data in the manufacturing processes of multi storey building manufacture time, and cost collected through case study analysis of building manufacture plants in Australia, Sweden, and Japan. It will use simulation by way of system dynamic modelling and Multi Objective Optimisation (MOO) to verify current states, and then to use MOO to suggest improvements to the systems and processes.

    It is expected that lean in off-site manufacture can improve processes and when added to a moving production line, reduce time and streamline processes without compromising customisation. The expected outcome is a framework for a lean based moving production line for off-site building manufacturing that allows time (and cost) efficiency, and for customisation.

    Supervisors:

    Assoc Prof Lu Aye

    Dr Felix Hui

    Qualifications:

    BArch

  9. Yanhui Sun

    Email: yanhui.sun1@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

    Thesis:
    BIM-based Automated Design Check System for Modular Building
    Synopsis:
    Unlike conventional buildings, modular buildings require more time in design and planning but less time in execution. Most of the challenges facing by current industry are related to the module design as a number of factors from downstream vendors such as manufacturability, transportability, and assemblability should be considered at the design stage. Building Information Modelling (BIM) as an emerging 3D design technology, has been widely utilised to improve the quality of the modular design. However, there is a lack of a method that can automatically analyse a BIM model to detect potential issues in modular design. The aim of this research is to develop a BIM-based method to automatically check design quality of modular buildings in terms of manufacturability, transportability, and assemblability. Firstly, previous lessons from manufacturers, logistics providers, and site contractors will be investigated and summarised through questionnaires and interviews. Then, these lessons will be interpreted to a series of computer-understandable rules. Finally, a rule-based engine will also be developed on top of an open BIM platform. The proposed method will be implemented in three real projects to evaluate its effectiveness and efficiency.
    Supervisors:

    Prof Xiangyu Wang

    Dr Jun Wang

    Qualifications:

    MSc Structural Engineering

    MSc Sustainable Buiding Technology

    Bachelor of Civil Engineering

  10. Tian Tang

    Email: tiatang@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    A lightweight concrete solution for a timber concrete composite floor system
    Synopsis:
    The timber system such as cross laminated timber was developed and becoming popular in low-rise residential buildings due to its advantage such as lower cost and lower carbon footprint. In order to improve the mechanical properties of timber system, a timber-lightweight concrete composite (TLCC) structural elements can became an alternative solution for construction application such as floor system. However, mechanical properties and durability of this material is inferior compared with the conventional concrete due to high porosity and lower strength of Lightweight aggregates. Therefore, the aim of this research is to understand the current limitation of using lightweight concrete in this composite structure and the mechanical performance of this system. Finite element model will be developed for optimising the mechanical performance of this composite structure and experimental work will be conducted for model verification. The expected outcome of this research is to develop a reliable timber-lightweight concrete composite system with better mechanical performance that can be applied in floor application.
    Supervisors:

    Prof Tuan Ngo

    Dr Ali Kashani

    Dr Xuemei Liu

    Qualifications:

    Master of Civil Engineering, The university of Melbourne

    Bachelor of Science (Civil Engineering system), The University of Melbourne

    Publications:
  11. Bertrand Teodosio

    Email: bteodosio@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    An innovative prefabricated footing system for low-rise residential structures
    Synopsis:
    Significant damage on residential structures have been widely reported in many countries including Australia due to reactive soils. These soils have greater potential to change their volume depending on the amount of moisture present in the soil, hence these soils swell when water is absorbed and shrink when water evaporates. Lightly-loaded structures, specifically prefabricated houses, founded on reactive soils are more prone to slab movements resulting into angular distortions that can cause cracking of the walls and slabs. The main aim of my study is to develop an innovative footing solution for prefabricated houses that will not only prevent distortions and cracking, but also to industrialise the substructure construction industry. Shifting the paradigm from traditional or cast-in-place methods to prefabrication may have significant influence on structure quality, construction schedules and house cost.
    Supervisors:

    Dr David Heath

    Prof Priyan Mendis

    Qualifications:

    Master of Engineering Science (Research), Monash University

  12. Pasindu Thalpe Guruge

    Email: pthalpe@student.unimelb.edu.au

    Thesis:
    Fire performance of concrete flat slabs
    Synopsis:
    The use of flat slabs is becoming more popular in modern buildings because of their speed of construction and use of cost-effective form work. Current understanding is that flat slabs fail after yielding of top reinforcement near supports due to punching shear. The aim of the research is to do a comprehensive study of the performance of concrete flat slabs under fire taking into account the different boundary conditions and load cases. Analytical and finite element models will be developed to optimize the structural performance and these models will be verified using experimental investigations. The expected outcome is to provide a reliable research base to improve the current building code and design guidelines regarding fire design of concrete flat slabs. This research is being funded by a Melbourne Research Scholarship and CAMPH.
    Supervisors:

    Prof Priyan Mendis

    Dr Kate Nguyen

    Prof Tuan Ngo

    Qualifications:

    MSc

    BSc Eng (Hons)

  13. Alessandra Akemi Yokota

    Thesis:
    A comprehensive full cost-benefit analysis for houses
    Synopsis:
    Quantifying the sustainability of houses is a challenging and complex task. Social, economic, and environmental aspects need to be considered in a lifecycle perspective. It includes consideration of internal and external costs and benefits: Wider Economic Costs (WECs) or costs borne by the society and Wider Economic Benefits (WEBs). Without considering them, the government decision-making may not be complete and transparent. The aim of this study is to develop a generalised comprehensive full cost-benefit analysis framework for houses. The expected contribution to knowledge is a general theoretical model for quantifying and monetising WECs and WEBs. As empirical knowledge, this study contributes to identifying, quantifying and monetising wider benefits of prefabricated houses according to housing supply and demand in specific locations, especially in urban areas with unexpected potential of rapid growth. Thus, the inclusion of WEBs and WECs in project feasibility of housing developments will support the decision making process and benefit the wider community. This research is being funded by a Melbourne Research Scholarship and CAMPH.
    Supervisors:

    Assoc Prof Lu Aye

    Assoc Prof Masa Noguchi

    Qualifications:

    MPhil in Civil Engineering

    Bachelor of Architecture and Urbanism

    Publications:

    Yokota, AA; Aye, L; Noguchi, M, Exploring demands for mass customised prefabricated houses in Brazil, Proceedings of ZEMCH 2018 International Conference, 2018, pp. 705–717

    Yokota, AA; Aye, L, Identifying wider economic benefits of prefabricated houses in Australia, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment, 2016, pp. 71–80 (10)