Skip to main content

MSCA-COFUND-CLEAR-Doc - PhD Position #CD22-53: Volumetric climate-controlled urbanism: issues, instruments and international circulations of a new modality of urban production


Job Information

Université Gustave Eiffel
Research Field
Sociology » Urban sociology
Geography » Human geography
Sociology » Social shaping of technology
Researcher Profile
First Stage Researcher (R1)
Application Deadline
Type of Contract
Job Status
Hours Per Week
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?
H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND
Marie Curie Grant Agreement Number
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Offer Description


The interstitial spaces of cities are being urbanised, through interventions in height and depth, or the creation of three-dimensional enclosures. Underground or vertical farms for horticultural production, creation of underground equipment or infrastructure, urban deployment of networks of micro-greenhouses housed in containers – these are all examples of new forms of ‘volumetric’ urban space. There appears to be a combination of factors – constraints and restrictions in terms of urban space leading to densification policies, the search for technological solutions to adequately respond to environmental crises, issues of health and well-being, or even the demand for greater accessibility to local food production and collective facilities, etc. – which are bound up in making enclosed and interstitial urban spaces increasingly strategic places for the development of different activities.

These interventions share one thing in common: the use of technologies for controlling the microclimatic environment (hygrometry, temperature, air circulation, light, etc.) to create and maintain optimized and efficient ambient conditions. Although these technologies are not new, their deployment at the urban scale and their circulation at the global level for the past ten years are only rarely questioned, even though they constitute a major modality of urban response to the needs of adaptation to climate change and ecological transition which are now of concern to all stakeholders in the urban arena (Marvin & Rutherford 2018).

There is a long tradition of research on the one hand in the field of underground urbanism (Barles, Barroca, AFTES work, etc.) and on urban verticality (Drozdz et al 2018), and on the other hand on technical management of urban environments (work on indoor air conditioning, deployment and distribution of infrastructure, etc.). But there remains a dearth of work combining both a reflection on the urban modalities of the deployment of these generic technologies and a socio-technical analysis attentive to the properties and effects of microclimatic control technologies on the urban fabric.

The aim of this thesis is to question the ways in which initiatives, projects or experiments around these volumetric urban spaces are both shaped by the local context (forms, regulations, relations between actors, etc.) and contribute to its transformation and its distinction through the development of particular infrastructural configurations. In this context, the thesis poses the hypothesis that, behind this apparent diversity, there are infrastructural configurations that nonetheless share common elements, linked to the circulation of expertise, knowledge and socio-technical devices.


Mobilising an approach attentive to the spaces and territories of implementation of the ecological transition, this thesis studies the emergence of a mode or modes of volumetric climate-controlled urbanism in two different urban contexts (Paris and Singapore) and from three angles:

• Understanding of the logics and issues that push a variety of urban actors (municipalities, businesses, associations, etc.) to develop them;

• Exploration of the circulation and functioning of the technical systems underlying these spaces, including their visual representations;

• Analysis of the compromises, contradictions and socio-political concerns they generate.

The thesis will therefore study the modalities of creating urban volumetric environments through a focus on objects or sites which the candidate will identify in consultation with the supervisors and partners. Several possible sites can already be identified: in Paris, the thesis could be based on the results of the Ville 10D project (2017) and its experimental sites in Paris and La Défense, the projects supported by the City of Paris (2016) to “reinvent” the basements of the capital, as well as emblematic projects of local food production in volumetric enclosures (Cité Maraîchère de Romainville, the urban farm La Caverne); in Singapore, it could study the emergence of volumetric urban knowledge and expertise (McNeill 2019) involving universities, demonstrators and actors of urban production through e.g. the creation of the Nanyang Center for Underground Space, the biodiversity conservatories of the Gardens by the Bay botanical garden, as well as numerous vertical farm projects in the context of the quest of the city-state for increased food self-sufficiency. In both cases, the thesis will analyse how the servicing of volumetric spaces is based on the production of controlled urban environments capable of stabilizing optimal ambient conditions and hosting human presence and activities.

The methodology of the project draws on the identification of specific case studies to which a comparative analysis will be applied, with the development of an analytical framework of common categories to be defined during the first stages of the thesis (based on a review of existing research in the field, study of historical context and an initial survey phase with key experts). The candidate will then use mainly qualitative methods in fieldwork (semi-structured interviews with the urban actors involved, participant observation, analysis of grey literature), supplemented by analysis of cartographic productions and visualization techniques of the spaces studied. In effect, the development of these spaces requires prior representations involving different types of technical innovations such as digital twins or surveys that can represent urban volumes. Understandings of these technologies and the effects of their dissemination are still poorly developed and thus require specific investigation.


The main contribution of the thesis will be a detailed and multi-situated analysis of the emergence and growing significance of a new form of urban production, volumetric climate-controlled urbanism. This analysis will focus on the logics and issues (why), the modalities (how), the locations and circulations (where), as well as the socio-political implications (the tensions and conflicts raised) of this form of urban production through in-depth case studies in two different urban contexts. The thesis will thus contribute to an emerging and important field of urban research at the international level and will bring an original and empirically supported reflection on the transdisciplinary theme of ‘the city of tomorrow’ within the framework of the CLEAR-Doc project


Barles, Sabine & Jardel, Sarah (2005). L’urbanisme souterrain. Étude comparée exploratoire. Paris: Apur.

Barroca, Bruno (dir.) (2014). Penser la ville et agir par le souterrain. Paris: Presses des Ponts et Chaussées.

Drozdz, Martine, Appert, Manuel & Harris, Andrew (2018). High-rise urbanism in contemporary Europe. Built Environment, 43(4), 469-480.

Graham, Stephen & Marvin, Simon (2001). Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition. London: Routledge.

Harris, Andrew (2015). Vertical Urbanisms: Opening up Geographies of the Three-Dimensional City. Progress in Human Geography 39(5), 601–20.

Marvin, Simon & Rutherford, Jonathan (2018). Controlled Environments: an urban research agenda on microclimatic enclosure. Urban Studies 55(6), 1143-1162.

McNeill, Donald (2019). Volumetric urbanism: The production and extraction of Singaporean territory. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 51(4), 849-868.

Ville 10D (2017) Rapport d’étape, PN Ville10D – Ville d’Idées,

Ville de Paris (2017) Appel à projets urbains innovants Réinventer Paris - Les dessous de Paris, 10


Research Field
Education Level
Bachelor Degree or equivalent
Research Field
Education Level
Bachelor Degree or equivalent
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree.
  • At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.

Additional Information

  • High-quality doctoral training rewarded by a PhD degree, delivered by Université Gustave Eiffel
  • Access to cutting-edge infrastructures for research & innovation.
  • Appointment for a period of 36 months based on a salary of 2 700 € (gross salary per month).
  • Job contract under the French labour legislation in force, respecting health and safety, and social security: 35 hours per week contract, 25 days of annual leave per year.
  • International mobility will be mandatory
  • An international environment supported by the adherence to the European Charter & Code.
  • Access to dedicated CLEAR-Doc trainings with a strong interdisciplinary focus, together with a Career development Plan.
Eligibility criteria

Applicants must fulfil the following eligibility criteria:

  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree.
  • At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career (career breaks excluded) and not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. Career breaks refer to periods of time where the candidate was not active in research, regardless of his/her employment status (sick leave, maternity leave etc). Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must fulfil the transnational mobility rule: incoming applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 3 previous years.

One application per call per year is allowed.

Applicants must be available full-time to start the programme on schedule (November 1st 2023).

Application rules are enforced by the French doctoral system which specifies a standard duration of 3 years for a full-time PhD together with the MSCA standards and the OTM-R European rules as follows.

Citizens of any nationality may apply to the programme.

There is no age limit.

Selection process

Please refer to the Guide for Applicants available on the CLEAR-Doc website.

Additional comments
  • The First step before applying is contacting the PhD supervisor. You will not be able to apply without an acceptation letter from the PhD supervisor.
  • International Mobility: Please contact the PhD supervisor for any additional detail on job offer and the international Mobility
  • Please contact the PhD supervisor for any additional detail on job offer.
  • There are no restrictions concerning the age, gender or nationality of the candidates. Applicants with career breaks or variations in the chronological sequence of their career, with mobility experience or with interdisciplinary background or private sector experience are welcome to apply.
  • Support service is available during every step of the application process by email:
Website for additional job details

Work Location(s)

Number of offers available
Université Gustave Eiffel
Île de France
Postal Code
5, Boulevard Descartes