PhD Unalab:Nature-based solutions to enhance climate & water resilient of cities (V38.3297)

PhD Unalab:Nature-based solutions to enhance climate & water resilient of cities

Faculteit Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences, Faculteit Bouwkunde


UNaLab is a European, Horizon 2020 funded project. The overarching objective of UNaLab is to develop, via co-creation with stakeholders and implementation of ‘living lab’ demonstration areas, a robust evidence base and European Framework of innovative, replicable, and locally-attuned nature-based solutions to enhance the climate and water resilient of cities.

For this purpose, three front-runner cities (Eindhoven, Tampere and Genova) will implement nature-based solutions for their Urban Living Lab. Five European follower cities (Basaksehir, Cannes, Castellon, Prague and Stavanger) will develop their own vision and roadmap towards climate and water resilience, and contribute to the scalability and replicability of nature-based solutions. Non-EU cities (Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Brazil cities) are involved to assess the potential of nature-based solutions for their context and contribute to the scalability and replicability of nature-based solutions.

The role of TU/e focuses on the replication and upscaling potential of Nature Based Solutions (NBS). TU/e is responsible for the roadmapping process with the follower cities, and the analysis of the implementation and adoption barriers of the NBS implemented in the front-runner cities. TU/e also contributes to related tasks in the project, such as the NBS replication framework, data management and data management tools, NBS technical handbook, and impact assessment of NBS.

The roadmapping process with follower cities is the responsibility of TU/e LightHouse ( Elke den Ouden and Rianne Valkenburg). For the research on NBS impact and adoption barriers and enables a 4 year’s PhD will be appointed with supervision from the department of the Built Environment (prof. Bauke de Vries) and the department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (prof. Sjoerd Romme).

The TU/e PhD candidate’s contribution to the UNaLab project is three-fold:

•             Analysis of the barriers and enablers for adoption of NBS implemented in the front-runner cities by other cities. A description of NBS solutions will be provided by the University of Stuttgart in the form of a NBS Technical Handbook, which serves as a starting point for this research.

•             Researching NBS solutions that will become available over time and develop a NBS roadmap. Together with TU/e LightHouse the visions of the follower cities will be analysed to identify common and specific needs, which serves as a starting point for roadmapping interviews with experts in the field. The roadmap will complement the Technical Handbook (of existing solutions) with solutions that will become available over time.

•             Analysis of the replicability potential of existing and future NBS to other contexts. The NBS solutions of the Technical Handbook and roadmap will be analysed on their replicability in collaboration with Fraunhofer (who is responsible for the NBS Replication Framework).

The acquired knowledge and experience in NBS implementation in the front-runner cities will be transferred to the follower cities and later on to any city. To achieve this, the NBS cases must be described in a way that they can be adapted to the context. Moreover, the key performance indicator and key impact indicator values should indicate the suitability in a certain context (i.e. a certain place in a certain city).


Theoretically this research builds upon research in the field of Case-Based Reasoning (CBR). CBR allows for semantically rich description of cases. Case adaptation requires careful consideration. Dependent on the PhD skills this can be executed ranging from manually to completely automated. CBR can cover both legal, social, economic, governance aspects, as well as technical, environmental and spatial aspects.

(Preliminary) Research questions are:

•             What are the barriers and enablers for implementing NBS?
•             What is the generic description of a NBS?
•             What are the KPI’s for NBS in EU cities?
•             How can NBS be replicated in other contexts?
•             How can NBS cases be used in the development of NBS roadmaps?

(Preliminary) Research goals are:

•             Development of a CBR system for NBS
•             Validation of the system by follower cities
•             Extending the field of knowledge acquisition and case adaptation
•             Improving current method of roadmapping for innovations using NBS cases

The PhD candidate is expected to deliver scientific publications related to the UNaLab project in general and the specific research goals.


The main deliverable of the project is the PhD thesis, including three scientific papers. These papers may be based on the deliverables required for the UNaLab project and be co-authored with UNaLab project partners, but this will be decided by the candidate and his/her promotors based on the final research plan.

Next to the PhD thesis/scientific papers, the candidate is responsible for and/or involved in a number of deliverables in the UNaLab project:

•             NBS replication framework (public report, lead Fraunhofer)
•             Replication roadmaps for nature-based solutions (public report, lead TU/e LightHouse and Fraunhofer)
•             Implementation and adoption barriers to Urban Living Labs for NBS (public report, lead PhD candidate)
•             Data management tools (software demonstrators, lead Engineering)
•             NBS performance and impact monitoring protocols (public report, lead VTT)
•             NBS implementation handbook (public report, lead VTT)
•             Impact of NBS demonstrations (public report, lead University of Aveiro)


You hold a Master’s degree or equivalent degree in Built Environment, Innovation Management or Industrial Design. Other Master degrees will also be considered if the candidate demonstrates an interest in the themes of the research: new business development, participation, stakeholder involvement, co-creation and nature-based solutions for climate and water resilience. You are familiar with both qualitative and quantitative research methods and are committed to knowledge dissemination via practitioners or policy workshops.

You have respect for and are able to interact with clients, set up collaboration, and manage projects.

You have good skills in English writing and speaking. If you happen to speak or understand one of the languages of the project partners, this will be considered as an added value.

More specifically we are looking for a candidate with:

•             Knowledge of urban design
•             Knowledge of innovation management
•             Knowledge of stakeholder management
•             Interest in system development

The TU/e is an equal opportunity employer. Members of under-represented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.


The PhD candidate is expected to contribute to the UNaLab project with a workload of 557 working-days, which is on average 70% of the working hours for the 4-year duration of the assignment. The activities for UNaLab are an integral part of the PhD scientific research work. Together with the remaining time, it allows for a full PhD trajectory.

Travel budget

The project budget includes a travel budget of €9000 for the PhD candidate to visit partner cities in Europe and participate in workshops and dissemination events.

Informatie en sollicitatie

Please submit your application (max. 5 x 2 MB) using “Apply Now” or “Solliciteer Direct” button on the top of this page. Do not send your application by email.

 Your application should consist of the following documents:

  1. A cover letter explaining your motivation for the position;
  2. Qualifications for this position based on requirements;
  3. A short research plan on how you aim to carry out the project;
  4. At least three references whom we may contact on your behalf; 
  5. A detailed Curriculum Vitae, including a list of publications.