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PhD Position ‘The Sustainable Turn in Urbanism' – research-by-design track

The Department of Architecture (www.architecture.kuleuven.be) is part of the Science and Technology Group at KU Leuven and coordinates the research on (interior) architecture, urbanism and spatial planning at the the Faculty of Architecture (Brussels and Gent) and the Faculty of Engineering (Leuven). The Department enjoys an international reputation and currently counts more than 150 (international) PhD students. The doctoral researcher will be part of the research groups P.PUL (Planning for People, Urbanity and Landscape; www.ppulresearch-kuleuven.be) and Architecture, Interiority and Inhabitation (A2I) (www.a2i-kuleuven.be).


For more information please contact prof. Martino Tattara (martino.tattara@kuleuven.be), prof. Bruno Notteboom (bruno.notteboom@kuleuven.be) and/or prof. Sven Sterken (sven.sterken@kuleuven.be). Please be aware that we might not be able to answer to your emails during the month of July 2022.

Candidates are kindly invited to apply online before Monday September 12, 2022 at noon.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on Thursday September 22, 2022 in Brussels or, if necessary, online.

Please include in your application file:

  • a cover letter that includes a clear motivation why you are applying for this specific position and this particular project;
  • a CV;
  • the names of two referees whom we might contact during the selection process;
  • a writing sample, e.g. an article, a (chapter of) a masters thesis. Specify why this writing sample is relevant for this vacancy;
  • a design portfolio;
  • any additional material that can support your application.

You can apply for this job no later than September 12, 2022 via the online application toolKU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.


English - français


Apply before: 12/09/2022

The PhD is part of the research project ‘The Sustainable Turn in Urbanism. Past and Future Interactions between Ecology, Urban Design and Participation in Brussels’. In the Brussels Capital Region, pressing urgencies such as housing seem to come at the detriment of nature and biodiversity, and vice versa. This leads to ongoing discussions between governmental agencies, action committees, designers/planners and other societal actors. Focusing on tensions between social and ecological goals, as well as between governmental institutions and action committees, this research studies the history of participation and urbanism, while instrumentalizing design in contemporary discussions on Brussels. Thus, it brings together history and design in an innovative framework.

‘The Sustainable Turn in Urbanism’ consists of two parallel PhD tracks that are expected to closely collaborate. A first PhD researcher will examine the genealogy of socio-ecological interaction in Brussels since the 1960s, by interrogating the legacy of the various historical actors that are still active in Brussels today. It will be supervised by prof. Bruno Notteboom, dr. Koenraad Danneels and prof. Sven Sterken. The second PhD researcher will deploy research-by-design methods in dealing with the tensions between built and open space, and social and ecological challenges, under the supervision of prof. Martion Tattara, prof. Bruno Notteboom and prof. Sven Sterken. Both research tracks are part of a joint research framework in interaction with societal stakeholders (action committees and governmental institutions) in round table sessions, and design and research labs. Apart from academic publications and two PhD thesis, the outcome of the project includes an exhibition and a conference.

This particular vacancy concerns the research by design track (for the historical research track, see vacancy number BAP-2022-444). The research involves both analytical and projective activities culminating in the development of a pilot project dealing with contemporary socio-ecological questions in Brussels, bringing together different stakeholders. To achieve such goals, this track comprises several research actions, such as the development of interpretative mapping, the study of selected projects (and counterprojects), the organization of design workshops and the participation in design teaching activities.


We are looking for an outstanding candidate who is passionate about architecture, urban design and research. You are the ideal candidate if you:

  • have obtained a masters degree and can show proof of a strong interest in research in architecture, research by design, architectural theory/history, landscape architecture, urban design, urbanism or equivalent;
  • have distinguished yourself during your studies, academic career or professional life (to be demonstrated by means of distinctions, achievements, or endorsements);
  • are able to show proof of you writing skills by means of an article, book chapter or masters thesis;
  • have developed during your studies and/or your professional career an exciting portfolio of design works in the fields of architecture and/or urban design;
  • are able to publicly present your design work and engage in a discussion with stakeholders;
  • know how to organize yourself and can work with tight deadlines;
  • function well in a team but are also able to work individually;
  • have a good command of French and English. Knowledge of Dutch is an asset.

Apart from carrying out the research for the project in close cooperation with the supervisors, your job will consist of:

  • following the doctoral training at the Faculty of Architecture;
  • contributing to teaching at masters level in the supervisors’ classes and seminars;
  • publishing your research in academic journals and books, and presenting it at international conferences;
  • engaging in general services for the department (for example: surveying of exams, assisting in the organization of events, ...);
  • organizing international research meetings, a conference and an exhibition, with the PhD researcher in the parallel research track.

We offer a full-time appointment in a doctoral fellowship in a creative and dynamic work environment. You will be appointed for the duration of 1 year, extendable to a maximum of 4 years in total (depending on positive interim evaluations). You will be based at the Faculty of Architecture, campus Sint-Lucas Brussels and Ghent. Candidates are expected to start on November 1st 2022 or on the earliest alternative date agreed upon with the supervisors.

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