PhD Researcher climate-responsive and health-focused design

PhD Researcher climate-responsive and health-focused design

Published Deadline Location
1 Nov 1 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

Are you an aspiring researcher looking for a new opportunity in the field of climate-responsive and health-focused design? Would you like to join a friendly and open environment where you can develop your skills and acquire new knowledge? Then you have a part to play as a PhD candidate within the interdisciplinary research project 'BENIGN'!

In this project you will investigate how 'blue' and 'green' built environment characteristics influence health effects and produce ecosystem (dis)services in times of heat stress. The impact of climate change on health is increasing particularly through heat stress, degrading water quality, and loss of urban biodiversity. Blue (e.g., lakes, canals) and green infrastructure (e.g., trees, parks) may significantly contribute to reduce the impacts of heat stress periods on urban populations and cool down the built environment. The 'BENIGN' project - BluE and greeN Infrastructure desiGned to beat the urbaN heat - aims to investigate how blue and green infrastructure can be employed in urban areas to create healthy living conditions. To do so, 3 living labs in Dutch municipalities will be set up. A key outcome of BENIGN will be a decision support system for municipalities to implement healthier built environments.

We are looking for a PhD candidate with experience in climate-responsive and salutogenic (health-focused) design. The envisioned PhD research should develop practical guidelines for climate-responsive and salutogenic spatial design interventions. These interventions will focus on urban blue-green infrastructure applied at the interface of indoor and outdoor spaces, and at the micro- and neighbourhood scales. The research will a follow a Research Through Design (RTD) process, alternating design and testing stages focused on specific indicators and employing quantitative and qualitative methods.

Core tasks may include: (1) the development of spatial design solutions for urban blue-green infrastructure applied at the interface of indoor and outdoor spaces, and at the micro- and neighbourhood scales; (2) the testing of these solutions on their cooling effects, using meteorological modelling (e.g. ENVI-met); (3) the testing of these solutions on water quality and urban biodiversity indicators; (4) the testing of these solutions on mental, physical and social health indicators during participatory living labs; (5) the development of visual design guidelines based on the optimised solutions resulting from the RTD process, and their communication across scientific and professional resources.

We are searching for a PhD candidate who has an affinity with the topics described above; the necessary experience in working with CAD in 2D and 3D, with microclimate modelling software, with visualisation software; and has an interest and/or experience in participatory and qualitative methods.

This research is embedded within the Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning group, and the PhD researcher will join the Landscape Architecture team, which is led by Prof. Sanda Lenzholzer. You will be co-supervised by Agnès Patuano and Dr. João Cortesão.

Within the BENIGN project you will work closely together with a large consortium of 5 PhD candidates and 2 postdocs, gathering members of different parts of the knowledge chain: fundamental (Radboud University, Radboudumc, Wageningen University, Naturalis, Free University, Donders Institute), applied (Deltares), practice-oriented and civil society organizations.


Wageningen University & Research


  • A successfully completed MSc degree in any spatial design related discipline (e.g., architecture, landscape architecture, urban design).
  • Academic excellence, with a solid understanding of both quantitative and qualitative research methods, demonstrated through grade transcripts and CV.
  • Design excellence, demonstrated through a design portfolio and grade transcripts.
  • Flexible and team player.
  • Proactive behaviour and ability to work independently.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Experience with outdoor thermal comfort analysis and urban climate-responsive design.
  • Experience with analysis of health issues and health-focused design.
  • An ability to undertake teaching in parallel with the PhD research.
  • Excellent command of academic written and spoken English (C1 level).
  • Excellent command of academic written and spoken Dutch (C1 level).

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the " Best University " in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life". Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR's Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

The Landscape Architecture team
Research carried out by the Landscape Architecture team addresses present and future environmental challenges by means of landscape design. These challenges include climate adaptation and mitigation, sustainable water management, ecological networks, health, and the energy transition. Our specific competence is to analyse complex and dynamic landscape systems at various scale levels, and to propose integrated spatial design solutions. We are a dynamic team consisting of a Full professor, Associate professors (2), Assistant professors (8), Postdocs (3) and PhDs/junior researchers (10). We are embedded in the department of Environmental Sciences of Wageningen University, which provides fundamental research and academic education on our living environment. We are member of the Wageningen Institute for Environment and Climate Research (WIMEK) and of the Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS).


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1094095-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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