PhD student Reworlding social housing estates: integrating social and ecological practices of conceiving, using and maintaining collective space

About the function

What is the aim of the REWORLDING network? 
Ecological issues are experienced differently by different actors, communities and organisations, possibly leading to societal polarisation and inhibiting urgently needed actions around these issues. As Participatory Design (PD) researchers, we observe a need for design approaches that can bring diverse actors together to tackle these challenges in participatory ways, with particular attention to those who remain silent, both as human and non-human actors (e.g. plants, rivers and insects). The REWORLDING network aims to investigate and outline such a careful and situated PD approach that can better understand and create synergies between the different worlds in which people live and work, and the more-than-human worlds they are entangled with. The REWORLDING network will host 11 DCs who will each focus on a specific research topic. Will you become one of them?

What is the focus of this particular PhD project? 
In this PhD project, the general aim of the REWORLDING project is applied to the context of social housing. Social housing estates have the potential to, because of their scale and location, trigger larger transition processes. Think of expanding slow road networks, restoring the infiltration capacity of water systems, increasing the biodiversity of natural corridors, etc. The main question of this PhD is how to not only capitalize on this ecological potential, but also on its potential to trigger social transition processes. How can the introduction of new ecological networks, systems and corridors increase the capacity of residents, ngo’s and local authorities to both care for themselves and for their environment. If you start working within this doctoral project, you will have the opportunity, with this question as a starting point, to develop your own research story together with your supervisors and within the context of the European REWORLDING network (including all the knowledge and international training opportunities the network offers).

Objectives: (1) Perform a participatory mapping of actors and relations involved in the conception, use and maintenance of collective spaces in social housing estates in selected case studies. (2) Document the social and ecological practices of key actors (residents, service providers and authorities) and the conflicts among them; (3) Propose design strategies and scenarios to reimagine collective space practices in a caring and careful way (4) Define pathways for implementing scenarios and outline the conflicts and opportunities that these may introduce.

Expected Results: (1) Participatory mapping and ethnographic research of actors involved in the socio-ecological transition of collective space in social housing (2) Participatory atlas of spatial typologies, practices and infrastructures used by key actors involved in the case studies (3) Participatory redesign of strategies and scenarios for the collective space in social housing transition towards 2050.

Planned secondment(s): (1) Architecture Workroom Brussels: to learn about and engage with actors in socio-ecological transition in social housing (month 12-18). (2) University of Limerick: to learn and gain hands-on experience in historic buildings as energy prosumers (month 24-26).

MSCA Eligibility criteria
To be eligible for this position, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the recruitment date (estimated around June 2024). Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account. You can not already be in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment.

Curious about the other PhD projects within the REWORLDING network? Check You may apply for max. 3 PhD projects within the REWORLDING network.

About us

REWORLDING invites applications for 11 Doctoral Candidates (DCs) to write a doctoral thesis on Participatory Design (PD) and to participate in an international and interdisciplinary training network of 6 academic and non-academic beneficiaries and 10 partner organisations across Europe. REWORLDING is a EU-funded Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Doctoral Network that provides high-level training to doctoral researchers. Successful DCs will be employed by a host institution and will enjoy the opportunity to take on secondments within the REWORLDING training network. As a DC, you will work on your own research project and work together with your fellow DCs and the consortium on important overarching questions through cross-discipline collaborations.

More information about the REWORLDING project:

The DC who will start this PhD project will be hosted by Hasselt University, Faculty of Architecture and Arts, research group ArcK -  Spatial Capacity Building. 

More information:

About you

  • You hold a Master of (interior) Architecture or Design (or equivalent)
  • Your academic results are excellent.
  • You are interested in interdisciplinary research and have strong analytical skills.
  • You can work independently and as part of a team.
  • You have strong communication skills and are fluent in English (speaking and writing).
  • You agree to do the foreseen secondment(s).
  • You can demonstrate the necessary (participatory) design skills, clearly stated in your CV and/or portfolio uploaded with the application.
  • You can demonstrate your affinity with the research topic through a brief research plan (max 3000 words) uploaded with the application (see 'additional relevant documents'). The research plan must contain an overall purpose, questions that the project intends to answer, an account of the methodological approach, a description of material collection and type of research material and an account of the theoretical framework. The research plan should explicitly address how the project will be relevant to the theme of the REWORLDING network and the specific research project, described above.
  • You can be of any nationality, but have to comply with the MSCA eligibility criteria.
  • You are willing to take on teaching assignments to a limited extent.

Our offer

You will be appointed and paid as PhD student.
PhD scholarship for 2 x 2 years with intermediate evaluation. Start PhD in June 2024.

Apply for this position

The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.
The interviews are planned in the week of 27.11.2023

Apply now
Apply up to 20.11.2023

Question about this vacancy?

For substantive questions, send an e-mail to For questions about the selection procedure, please email

Prof. dr. Liesbeth HUYBRECHTS

Associate Professor