Petra Gruber appointed head of the I oA Department of Building Construction at the Angewandte

We are pleased to announce that Rector Gerald Bast has appointed Petra Gruber as head of the I oA Department of Building Construction at the University of Applied Arts Vienna as of October 2023, succeeding Karin Raith.

Petra Gruber is a researcher and educator in architecture and biodesign and holds a PhD in biomimetics in architecture from the Vienna University of Technology. Gruber works internationally in inter- and transdisciplinary design, research and education, at the intersection of biology, architecture and art. From 2000 to 2008, she was an assistant professor at the Institute of Design and Building Construction at the Vienna University of Technology, where she taught studio design, building construction, biomimetics, and vernacular architecture. At the University of Applied Sciences in Villach, she co-designed and taught in the Bionics and Biomimetics in Energy Systems program. She was a research fellow at the Center for Biomimetics at the University of Reading, UK. 

In her own office, transarch, Gruber leads research projects in traditional architecture and on spatial and functional aspects of biological structures for biomimetic innovation in architecture and the built environment. With her longtime project partner, Barbara Imhof, and together with an international team, she co-led the arts-based research projects, Biornametics” and Growing as Building,” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.

From 2012 to 2015, she held a long-term visiting professorship at the Ethiopian Institute for Architecture, Building Construction and City Development EiABC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Gruber served as the Chair of Architectural Design, and designed and implemented the first masters program in architecture in the country. From 2016 to 2021, she was Associate Professor for Biodesign at the Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center at the University of Akron, US, where she founded the BiodesignLab and supervised PhD students in Integrated Biosciences. 

Since her return to Austria in 2021, she has been a senior researcher at Hochschule Rhein-Waal in Germany and the University of Applied Arts Vienna with the project Biocool” on self-cooling biomimetic building facades. In December 2021, she joined the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) as a program expert. 

Her work has been widely published in books, journals, exhibitions and documentary films. She holds lectures and workshops worldwide and acts as a reviewer for scientific journals and funding organizations. In October 2023, she will join the I oA at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna as a professor and head of the Department of Building Construction. I am excited to join the I oA’s Department of Building Construction, and look forward to the opportunity to share experience, curiosity, and the courage to experiment.”

At the I oA, Petra will further explore building construction at the intersection of biology and building: How do processes in nature shape future conditions while, at the same time, deliver blueprints for a new living architecture? Building construction is at the core of implementing high-quality solutions in the built environment and needs to meet and drive innovation. Experimental design and research-based teaching, together with the integration of traditional building construction and advanced technologies, shall extend the capacity to shape perspectives for future challenges.