PhD Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative // Food-Water-Energy Nexus

The PhD researcher will be part of the CRUNCH project. CRUNCH is a multi-disciplinary project with an international consortium of 19 project partners lead by University of Portsmouth with the aim to work in 6 cities, addressing all three sectors of food, water and energy through the integrative FWE-Nexus approach. Using ULL scenarios developed through CRUNCH for the participating cities, a context specific FWE-Nexus framework will be developed and visualised.

  • Supervisors: Dr Sukanya Krishnamurthy and Prof Dr Bauke de Vries
  • Theme: Sustainable Urbanisation Global Initiative: Food-Water-Energy Nexus
  • Affiliation: Architectural Urban Design & Engineering; Urban Systems & Real Estate, Department of the Built Environment
  • Consortium: CRUNCH: Climate Resilient Urban Nexus CHoices

Work Environment

Eindhoven University of Technology is one of Europe's top technological universities, situated at the heart of a most innovative high-tech region. Thanks to a wealth of collaborations with industry and academic institutes, our research has real-world impact. In 2015, TU/e was ranked 106th in the Times Higher Educational World University ranking and 49th in the Shanghai ARWU ranking (engineering). TU/e has around 3,000 employees and 2,300 PhD students (half of which international, representing about 70 nationalities).


CRUNCH will demonstrate how the urban Food-Water-Energy Nexus can strengthen urban resilience through creating an interconnected knowledge platform with cross-sectorial indicators for a support tool and assessment framework (the Integrated Decision Support System - IDSS), to guide and improve robust decision making on future urban development. In order to implement integrated Nexus solutions for FWE, CRUNCH will co-define specific challenges for each of the Urban Living Labs (ULLs) in the participating cities (Southend-on-Sea, Gdansk, Uppsala, Eindhoven; Miami and Taipei). It will deliver a comprehensive overview of potential solutions, deep knowledge and evidence for the co-design of the selected urban areas.
The potential solutions include urban food production with renewable energy systems through biomass (anaerobic digestion using organic waste); holding, cleaning and draining water naturally through an integrative and systemic ecological approach combined with sustainable storage solutions and urban drainage (reducing flood risk).

Using ULL scenarios developed through CRUNCH for the participating cities, a context specific FWE-Nexus framework will be developed and visualised (supporting Follower/Multiplier Cities). To facilitate co-production and foster innovation and cost-effectiveness across the ULLs, the project proposes to underpin the processes by strategic trajectories through an evidence based framework for creating resource-efficient and resilient cities.

Research Aims

CRUNCH is a multi-disciplinary project with an international consortium of 19 project partners lead by University of Portsmouth with the aim to work in 6 cities, addressing all three sectors of food, water and energy through the integrative FWE-Nexus approach. It aims to support local decision and policy makers, practitioners and civil society organisations by translating the key findings of a deep review of literature, knowledge and research evidence on the FWE-Nexus into the design of Urban Living Labs (ULL). The proposal aims to creates a tool for integrated decision making using the Urban Living Lab (ULL) approach; identifying the cities' needs, developing the tool and framework, testing and analysing the models using different scenarios.

Working across scales, policy questions, and by employing urban planning and design methods, the research focuses on working with communities and municipalities across four cities to enable the conceptualisation and visualisation of Urban Living Lab (ULL) focused on FEW-Nexus projects. The research aims to bring together design development, implementation and assessment of ULL's within the creation of the support tool and assessment framework.


The main objectives of the PhD research project located at TU Eindhoven are:

General aims

  1. Compile geospatial data on the spread of FWE-Nexus approach and various design/ co-creative approaches used;
  2. Analysing five types of indicators: Social, Health, Environmental, Economic, and Governance in select locations on efficacy, performance, co-benefits and cost-effectiveness on the FEW-Nexus approach in select cities;
  3. Synthesising findings from 1&2 to create a framework of reference or state of art on co-design initiatives for the CRUNCH project to develop ULL in select cities.

Design aims

  1. Work with local stakeholders and inhabitants on developing and co-designing scenarios for sustainable urban futures focused particularly on food, water and energy;
  2. Develop on participatory methods that can be employed and scaled through the use of the FEW-Nexus framework;
  3. Becoming involved with and co-designing Urban Living Lab in select cities;
  4. Visualization of different scenarios tested for assessing the benefits of the FWE-Nexus


The research project aims to develop an inclusive city-scale built environment/public space analysis of resource flows. The design development of the ULL will allow to strategically frame co-production processes by consulting end-users and stakeholders.

  1. Indicators and drivers for the ULL sites identified;
  2. Understanding the existing solutions and critical challenges in the case study cities and developing innovative solutions for FWE Nexus integration in the ULLs;
  3. To model and analyse multiple design options for the FEW Nexus integration; visualisation of alternative ULL scenarios completed;
  4. Design and develop ULLs. Periodical 'charrettes' that gather information from other partners and integrate it into the ULL designs.
  5. Scenarios tested and design development plans for ULLs developed; replication strategies developed.


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with an MSc degree in urban planning and design, architecture, geography, urban sociology, etc. Applicants should have an interest and capabilities in spatial analysis and/or environmental innovations within an interest in urban planning and design. Apart from these attributes, s/he also needs the following proficiencies:

  • strong communication skills and ability to participate successfully in a multidisciplinary team;
  • interest and capability to work with communities in various cities;
  • excellent English language skills (writing and speaking);
  • an independent and well-structured working style. 

Specific of the post

  • Urban planning and design knowledge
  • GIS knowledge
  • ICT knowledge
  • Participatory research methodologies

Salary Benefits

The starting date for the appointment will be preferably early June 2018. The appointment is initially for a period of one year; contingent on satisfactory performance it will thereafter be extended by a maximum of additional three years leading to the completion of a PhD thesis. The gross monthly salary increases from € 2.222 in the first year to € 2.840 in the fourth year, plus 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of the year allowance. Besides this, the TU/e has an excellent package of attractive benefits for employees, a child-care facility, and a modern sports complex. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. The duration of the project is four years.

Source: IAmExpat website

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