Postdoc Urban architecture

Postdoc Urban architecture

Published Deadline Location
1 Mar 26 Mar Delft

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Challenge: Can “material culture” provide the integrative, inclusive backdrop to a circular building economy taking care of what was built before? Change: Establish new valuation standards for existing buildings, including anthropological evidence, material understanding and aesthetic tolerance. Impact: Make waste belong to the past!

Job description

Research questions

Circular building as Baukultur: regenerating buildings

The Postdoctoral position we offer should contribute to the theme of Material Culture, at the intersection of material history, anthropology and design capacity. ( In line with the 2022 Sector Plan for the Ontwerpende Ingenieurs Wetenschappen (Engineering Design Sciences) of the Dutch Universities, it implies interdisciplinary collaboration between humanities and technical sciences, as well as transdisciplinary relationships between theory and practice. It responds to the Sector Plan’s call for a circular building economy – “where waste belongs to the past” – while considering the fate of the current building stock. It is equally consistent with the

EU’s New European Bauhaus program, that investigates the architectural and cultural consequences of the EU Green Deal.

The research project wants to re-orient the discourse on circular building from a primarily technological issue towards a more encompassing cultural discourse, by concentrating on the largest stock of building materials available to us: the entire collection of all existing buildings. It problematizes the easy-going replacement of existing buildings by new ones, and gears design efforts primarily to repairing, re-programming, appointing, transforming, extending and reconfiguring existing buildings. This expands the by now well-established heritage-inspired renewal where historical-cultural values prevail, to include all buildings whose materials are still able to perform good service. The research project sets out to establish new valuation standards for existing buildings, including anthropological evidence, material understanding and aesthetic tolerance. The focus will be primarily on post-war buildings in a European context, rich in embodied energies, poor in energetic performance, tributary to abjured design grammars, and therefore challenging to regenerate. The dismantling of existing buildings into reusable components is another possible orientation the research project might take.

Research questions
Can life cycle studies and observations of appropriation assign agency to both materials and users? Ideas of maintenance and care make such relationships tangible: the life span of objects and materials is extended through considerate design and the enduring engagement of committed individuals. Is a comprehensive theory, incorporating material sensitivity, anthropological evidence and designerly creativity conceivable, as Gottfried Semper once attempted? Currently, new materialism and related theories echo Semper’s attempt to emancipate materials, by regarding them as active forces in a constant process of flow. Furthermore, traces of such thinking can be found in the field of material culture studies, in their understanding of artefacts as cultural signifiers. Can “material culture”, a term claimed by both new materialism and anthropology, provide the integrative, inclusive backdrop to a circular building economy taking care of what was built before?

Expected outcome

  • Development of a library of case-studies, with in-depth investigations of relevant cases of reuse, especially where dilemmas as evoked above enter the stage. Such case-studies can provide guidance to researchers and practitioners facing similar cases and hint to a comprehensive architectural theory of reuse, marrying technical, philosophical, anthropological and designerly approaches. 
  • Communication of these results in relevant output, oriented equally toward academia, practitioners and stakeholders of the built environment.
  • Participation in design education, in order to enhance reuse design capacities in future generations of designers.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


The successful candidate will likely:

  • Hold a PhD degree in the area of (Urban) architecture, theory of architecture, philosophy of building techniques or anthropology.
  • Hold background knowledge of post-war architecture and contemporary design tendencies, sensitivity towards materials.
  • Have the ability to communicate with all stakeholders of the built environment.
  • Demonstrate strong methodological versatility and a self-critical attitude.
  • Communicate well with fluent written and presentation skills in English, including engaging writing skills towards laymen.
  • An eagerness to share your knowledge with next generation students in design studios.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

The position is advertised at the scale 10 for early-career postdocs, but appointment at scale 11 may be possible for more experienced candidates.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Architecture & the Built Environment

The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment has a leading role in education and research worldwide. The driving force behind the faculty’s success is its robust research profile combined with the energy and creativity of its student body and academic community. It is buzzing with energy from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge. Our faculty has a strong focus on 'design-oriented research’, which has given it a top position in world rankings.

Staff and students are working to improve the built environment with the help of a broad set of disciplines, including architectural design, urban planning, building technology, social sciences, process management, and geo-information science. The faculty works closely with other faculties, universities, private parties, and the public sector, and has an extensive network in the Netherlands as well as internationally.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.


  • Postdoc
  • Engineering
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2960—€4670 per month
  • Doctorate
  • TUD03568


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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