PhD Fellowships in Project of Housing for Refugee Inclusion
Catholic University of Leuven Depatment of Architecture

The current vacancies are hosted within the research group OSA Urbanism and Architecture (Depatment of Architecture, KU Leuven) and the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (UGent). OSA, the research group Urbanism and Architecture, is part of the International Center of Urbanism (ICoU). The ICoU studies cases in urbanism (the science of the city) as well as develops strategies for urbanism (the discipline that acts upon the city). The worldwide spectrum of changing urban conditions in interaction with the continuous adaptation of urbanism provide a living lab for the center’s work. On the one hand, it draws upon the wide range of alternatives to the contemporary body of mainstream conventional, almost hegemonic, urban projects that do little more than surf on the neo-liberal waves of market-driven globalism. On the other hand, it seeks to shed light on emerging critical practices, not so much as models or sterile best practices, but as new interactions that unfold between changing urban development conditions and urbanism. It critically evaluates and develops a broad spectrum of investigations that work across disciplinary boundaries and / or which actively engage new forms of interpretation. It seeks to re-read / re-write urban histories as well as to create for new tools to describe, understand, interpret and qualitatively and structurally intervene in the transformative processes conditioning urbanism. The Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Ghent University aims to train young researchers and to carry out academic research, focusing on the design component of the architectural discipline, in the branches of knowledge of architecture, building technology and urban planning. At the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, research in urbanism, urban design and landscape is based on contemporary questions. They touch upon cultural, historical, theoretical and policy aspects and focus on problem definition, analysis and design. This research project connects with new research at the intersection of the study of migration and urbanism recently developed at the urbanism group of the department. The research project will moreover be supported by two interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary consortiums at Ghent University, namely the Urban Academy ('de Stadsacademie'), which is a co-creative space in which various stakeholders reflect together on urgent ecological and societal questions, among which 'Living in Diversity' ('Wonen in Diversiteit') and CESSMIR (Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees), which is an interdisciplinary and inter-Faculty centre focusing on the social impact of migration and fleeing.


Within the broader framework of studies investigating into the relationship between urban planning and diversity, decent and affordable housing has often been foregrounded as a key factor in the process of social inclusion and mobility of newcomers. However, despite this recognition, evidence from Europe has illustrated that newcomers, in particular refugees, face various challenges to access housing and engage in meaningful processes of home-making. This research project, therefore, aims to develop innovative housing models for refugees that intra muros allow for a sense of belonging and home, but at the same time have the capacity to become pathways for social inclusion and integration extra muros. In order to do so, the research project approaches the housing of refugees from an interdisciplinary and multi-scalar perspective and as part of the broader housing question of cities. 

To develop innovative housing models that have the potential to foster the social inclusion and mobility of refugees, two research positions will be opened, jointly held at the research group OSA Urbanism and Architecture (Department of Architecture, KU Leuven) and the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning (UGent). Each of them will have a specific focus: one will develop innovative design scenarios, in which spatial, cultural, technical, social and economic aspects are negotiated, and another will work towards alternative governance models, new coalitions, and organisational frameworks. Together they will work towards reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of current policies and towards building an inter-disciplinary framework to reconceptualise housing for refugee inclusion. Both doctoral investigations will principally focus on the context of super diverse arrival neighbourhoods following a case-study method with cases in Gent and Brussels. Throughout their PhD trajectory, the candidates will benefit from engagements with two promoters (Vivianaa d'Auria, KU Leuven and Luce Beeckmans, UGent) as well as with an inter-disciplinary steering committee.


  • The candidate holds a diploma in the field of architecture, engineering-architecture, urban studies, urban planning, urban governance, social sciences or equivalent;
  • The candidate obtained a Masters degree in one of the above (or related) domains, at at least distinguished her/himself from other fellow students with excellent academic results;
  • The candidate preferably has interdisciplinary experience and sensitivity for the topic of housing for refugees in connecting with processes of homing and belonging;
  • The candidate meets the requirements to begin the doctoral training and engages her/himself to complete a PhD;
  • The candidate is interested in scientific research and will publish and co-publish in relevant international scholarly journals to effectively disseminate research results;
  • The candidate is a good communicator and enjoys working in a team;
  • The candidate is willing to learn languages that might prove useful for the research and is capable and prepared to conduct intensive filed and archival research in relevant contexts of investigation.


We offer two full-time PhD fellowships for 48 months with starting date on September 1st 2020. Applications are due on August 9th 2020 and should comprise:

  • a letter of motivation (max. 1 A4);
  • an updated CV.
Candidates are invited to indicate in their letter of motivation their preference for one of the two foci included in the research project (housing design/ housing governance). Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in the last week of August 2020 and a final list will be released shortly after. Selected candidates are expected to start on September 1st 2020, or on the earliest alternative date agreed on together. 


For more information please contact Viviana d'Auria ( and Luce Beeckmans (

You can apply for this job no later than August 10, 2020 via the
KU 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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: August 10, 2020
  • Tags: Architectuur

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