PhD Vacancy: Activating History and Heritage of Amsterdam's Bridges and Quaywalls for Sustainable Development and Protection

PhD Position in Activating History and Heritage of Amsterdam's Bridges and Quaywalls for Sustainable Development and Protection

Join the Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning, TU Delft to analyze Amsterdam’s quaywalls and bridges as part of the World Heritage site Amsterdam.

Job Description:

The UNESCO Chair Water, Ports and Historic Cities of the PortCityFutures center, located in the Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning at TU Delft explores the relation between water and historic cities through the lens of the World Heritage site of Amsterdam. The Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning at TU Delft is partner in the Groeifonds project Multifunctional Urban Waterfronts. The PhD researcher will collaborate with members of the Chair to develop and refine methodologies that help us link historical analysis and long-term thinking on quaywalls and bridges in the context of the World Heritage property Amsterdam, the historic urban ensemble of the canal district built at the turn of the 16th and 17th century, to future solutions that protect heritage and allow for sustainable development in line with the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape approach. The PhD researcher will be employed to co-lead Work package 7 and to connect heritage approaches to research by design.

The research has three goals.

  1. To produce advanced historical knowledge of the past, connecting archival knowledge to contemporary data sets. We imagine a web portal that allows for advanced understanding of historic palimpsest - sewage lines, canal foundations, historic dams, etc. - embedded underground and invisible to the naked eye.
  2. To provide a conceptual background to assure that design interventions respect the site’s unique character and heritage value of historic quay walls as part of future sustainable practices,
  3. To explore how newly reconceptualized multifunctional quay walls, defined here as having multiple spatial purposes, social practices, and cultural meanings can help protect historic features and potentially build on/reinvent historic practices. To facilitate changes in building practices and lifestyles, this the project engages with Living Labs that allow experimentation with temporary quay walls - as permitted by World Heritage regulation during reconstruction moments and in preparation for permanent interventions.

The selected PhD candidate will collect relevant historical and archival data on the underground of Amsterdam using relevant archives, i.e. from the City of Amsterdam’s Engineering Office to develop a web tool that allows for connecting archival and contemporary information. The PhD researcher will work with colleagues in the Chair to develop a scientifically balanced method to connect and interpret diverse and heterogenous materials including texts, tabular documents and construction plans with drawings, sub-sections, labels, and descriptions. The texts and ciphers may be handwritten or printed in fonts of varying size and appearance. Even digitized, these documents are dispersed and searchable only in the context of a certain project, on the request of a specific actor, or archived by a select organization, and during a certain period. They are not interlinked or easily findable, despite their importance for contemporary building projects. The PhD researcher will have an affinity with computer science tools, to help access, inventorize and connect the historical heterogenous data sets for integration in contemporary engineering systems. The PhD will work closely with other researchers in the Chair to interpret the data and methodology, to connect it to heritage preservation using a GIS mapping-based approach while connecting to the other work packages and the research by design approach notably through living labs and design interventions. The selected PhD candidate will participate in the project to focus on a quay-wall/bridges focused water and HUL based analysis of Amsterdam in collaboration with the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency and relevant departments of the Municipality of Amsterdam, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Center.



You have:

  • Completed an MSc degree in Architecture, Urbanism, Heritage Studies, Architectural History, Urban History, Digital Humanities;
  • Awareness of and interest in historic developments and wish to connect this analysis to future design;
  • Previous experience in data-driven projects, as well as in coding, scripting, and artificial intelligence, preferably with an awareness of space-based processes;
  • Familiarity with spatial data analysis, the use of geographic information systems (e.g. ArcGIS) and 3D modelling (e.g. BIM);
  • Familiarity with research by design and data-driven design processes;
  • Excellent Master study results;
  • previous research experience in a transdisciplinary settings;
  • Ability to work collaboratively with others (students, faculty, and staff) to create a supportive research and learning environment;
  • Advanced Dutch and English language skills.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.


Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service. This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.


TU Delft (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


Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Dr. -Ing. Carola Hein, via

For information about the application procedure, please contact Caro Coemans, HR Advisor,

The position will remain open until June 2, 2024 (local Dutch time + 2 hrs). You must apply via the "Apply now" button. Applications via email will not be processed.


Application procedure

If you want to apply for this position, please submit a motivation letter, a detailed CV, contact details of three references, and a short reflection on the research proposal that includes a summary of your area of interest and future plans (max. 1 page A4). Research proposals should take into consideration:

  1. Experience with archival analysis.
  2. Space-based methodologies for historical and heritage analysis.
  3. Digital humanities approaches for heritage and sustainable development.
  4. Use of Open Data for heritage protection in line with the UNESCO HUL approach.
  5. Reflection on the role of Living Labs to advance interconnecting past, present and future.

Please note:

  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • A pre-Employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.


More information
More Information: TU Delft Website