Assistant Professor in Sponge Cities

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Delft, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Challenge: Understanding how to balance water surplus and deficit on the urban scale.
Change: Integration of interdisciplinary approaches to urban water management.
Impact: New solutions to facilitate the planning and design of sponge cities.

Job description

In April 2021, TU Delft launched an extensive Climate Action Programme, focusing not only on additional investments in research and education but also improving the sustainability of the TU Delft campus. For the next ten years TU Delft will allocate 22 million euro to set up and further shape this extensive programme. The TU Delft vision on Climate Action is deeply founded in preceding decades of university wide climate action research. The goal of the Climate Action research programme is to build on current strengths and identify the areas where there is a need to strengthen our capacities to keep up our (inter)national reputation as climate action university.

Sponge Cities

The current potential of urban water management systems to remove rainwater is not sufficient to deal with the large rainfall events that occur as a result of climate change. At the same time, climate change causes cities to suffer from drought during increasingly long hot periods, resulting in declining groundwater tables that pose a threat to building foundations. The Sponge Cities approach is a response to this challenge: allowing for storing enough water to face droughts (keep the sponge wet enough), while being able to store excess rainwater when needed (keep the sponge dry enough). Moreover, Sponge Cities need to provide urban spaces that are lively, safe and supporting the health and well-being of humans and ecosystems in the face of amplifying disturbances of environmental, social and economic kind. This requires new innovative solutions and control systems to store and manage water in urban areas and integrate these solutions in the current built environment, while producing co-benefits in terms of ecosystem services and spatial quality. Thus, implementing the Sponge Cities approach requires working at the intersection between water management, spatial planning and urban design.

We welcome an Assistant Professor who will  focus on developing an integrated research and education agenda around the topic of Sponge Cities, with content focused on climate adaptation through green and blue infrastructure and water-sensitive urban design and planning. This will require a sustained engagement in integrative and interdisciplinary activities, as well as an active engagement with practitioners and the wider public to operationalise and communicate the knowledge produced. Education will include teaching and developing courses on topics related to climate adaptation and methodology, as well as existing courses in the Urbanism and Faculty curriculum, at BSc and MSc levels. In addition, every academic staff is expected to contribute to management and service tasks within the department, faculty and university.

You will be hosted in the department of Urbanism (Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment), and you will collaborate with other tenure trackers in the Climate Action programme and with tenured professors having expertise on water management, architectural/urban engineering and design. As a tenure tracker, you will inspire your colleagues and students through research and education, both in courses (existing and to be developed) and educational projects. You are expected to acquire funding for new projects from different national and international funding schemes and contribute to organisational tasks and valorisation of your research work. . 


  • A doctorate degree (PhD) in environmental sciences, water management, urban hydrology, urban design, landscape architecture, spatial planning, or a related field;
  • Postdoctoral research experience;
  • A track record that demonstrates research expertise in one or more of the following topics: the urban water cycle, nature-based solutions, water-sensitive urban design and resilient urban climate, adaptive planning, evidenced by a strong publication list;
  • Clear affinity with and preferably experience in interdisciplinary research;
  • Excellent communication, networking, and collaboration skills;
  • Experience and affinity with education and multidisciplinary teaching, preferable holding a University Teaching Qualification certificate (or the ambition to acquire this within a short period of time).

Conditions of employment

A tenure-track position is offered for six years. In the fifth year we’ll decide if you will be offered a permanent faculty position, based on performance indicators agreed upon at the start of the appointment. We expect that you have the potential to grow towards an Associate Professor and/or Full Professor role in the future. If you currently are an Assistant Professor, we also accept your application for this role as an Associate Professor.

Inspiring, excellent education is our central aim. We expect you to obtain a University Teaching Qualification (UTQ) within three years if you have less than five years of teaching experience. This is provided by the TU Delft UTQ programme.

TU Delft sets high standards for the English competency of the teaching staff. The TU Delft offers training to improve English competency. If you do not speak Dutch, we offer courses to learn the Dutch language within three years.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (salary indication for assistant professor: € 3.807 – € 5.922). The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children’s Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.

TU Delft

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 and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 

Faculty of Architecture and 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 Environment.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact M. (Marjolein) Pijpers van Esch, e-mail:
[email protected] or C. (Claudiu) Forgaci, e-mail: [email protected].

For information about the application procedure, please contact Caro Coemans, HR advisor, e-mail:
[email protected] 

The position will remain open until January 31, 2022 (local Dutch time: UTC time + 2hrs.) You must apply via the “Apply now” button. Applications via e-mail will not be processed. 

Application procedure

To apply submit the following documents:

  • a letter of motivation.
  • a detailed CV including a list of peer-reviewed and other publications and a summary of your teaching experience.
  • a short research statement (maximum 1 A4) with your vision on future research directions.
  • a short teaching statement (maximum 1 A4) with topics and objectives.
  • names and contact details of three references that we may approach as part of your application procedure.

Please note:

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated. 





IHE Delft Institute for Water Education - MSc in Water and Sustainable Development