PhD Urban living outside the compact city Peri-urbanity as a socio-spatial phenomenon

Deadline: 01.03.2024

Oslo School of Architecture and Design

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) is a specialized university and a leading international architecture and design school that provides education within architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and design. AHOs fields of knowledge focus on design in all scales; objects, buildings, urban areas and landscaping. AHO is organized into four institutes, and has approx. 700 students and 145 employees.

The Institute of Urbanism and Landscape has a multi-disciplinary approach to education and research within the fields of urbanism and landscape architecture. Particular attention is paid to understanding change and transformation of cities and territories and to developing knowledge in order to enable strategy development and support design interventions in urban situations and landscapes. The institute has a strong international profile, with a well-established network of partner institutions within practice, teaching and research. Education activities comprise the MA in Architecture, MA in Landscape Architecture, MA in Urbanism as well as AHO’s PhD programme.

About the position

The Institute of Urbanism and Landscape calls for a PhD project on the changing ideals of urban living in contemporary Norwegian urbanism. We especially ask for proposals that address topics of urban living and culture in contexts of smaller cities and peri-urban settings in Norway.

Due to processes of polycentric and planetary urbanization, urban ways of living have spread out into rural and peri-urban contexts. In such contexts, one can find a wide array of lifestyles and uses of urban space that, on many accounts, differ from those found in the consolidated city. Such environments harbor both potentials and face challenges that are specific and contextual. However, in Norway and internationally, issues of urban living are traditionally discussed in the context of larger cities and dense urban environments. Current strategies for densification and transformation based on transit-oriented development (TOD) and the “compact city model” similarly seem to favor ideals and approaches to urban culture inherited from the historical European city, also in areas outside the urban cores. But peri-urbanity needs to be explored on its own terms. To ensure the development of sustainable communities in peri-urban contexts, we, therefore, need to rethink notions of urbanity beyond traditional ways of understanding centrality.

The PhD research should explore peri-urbanity as a socio-spatial phenomenon in specific local contexts, using municipalities within the Oslo region or in other Norwegian settings as a case. Relevant proposals to the call should question how ideals of urbanity and urban living are developed in smaller cities and peri-urban settings (including areas of larger new-built densification projects), with a focus on one or several of the following topics:

  • Changing ideals of urbanity – surveying new forms and territories of urban living
  • Changing notions of public life, space use, and design
  • Changing urban cultures – historical comparisons

The call relates to recent research on urban form and living outside and in-between urban centers, cf. the umbrella concept of “the horizontal city” (Cavalieri & Vigano 2020). The horizontal city encompasses an extended understanding of urbanity, transcending ontologies like the urban versus rural and society versus nature. The PhD project will be informed by the historical preconditions of urbanization as well as current densification strategies, as exemplified by for instance the Regional plan for areal and transport i Oslo and Akershus (2015) and similar development plans within local municipalities.

The PhD candidate will be associated with AHOs Norwegian Urbanism Research Group and its involvement in the teaching activities of GK5 and GK6, combining teaching and research on urban and peri-urban environments through a multi-disciplinary perspective. This involves architecture, urban planning, landscape urbanism, ecology, landscape design, research on urban morphologies, regional urbanism, rural sociology, and urban theory. The PhD student will collaborate closely with local municipalities, stakeholders, interest groups, and inhabitants.

Depending on the project and the qualifications of the candidate, the institute will consider adding a fourth year of teaching to the project period.

The PhD project will be supervised by Professor Jonny Aspen and Associate Professor Halvor W Ellefsen. Aspen is an experienced researcher and has published extensively on urban cultures, contemporary urban development, and digital cities. Ellefsen is a researcher and practitioner focusing on strategic planning, architectural production, and political economy. He also coordinates the Norwegian Urbanism Research Group at the institute.


  • ­Applicants must hold a master’s degree or equivalent in architecture/landscape architecture, urbanism/urban design, or social sciences/ humanities fields.
  • Applicants must have basic competence in Norwegian or another Scandinavian language.

We offer

The PhD scholarship is fully funded and there is no tuition fee. The salary is NOK 532 200 for a full position; extensive relevant experience can give a higher start salary. From the salary, there will be a mandatory deduction of 2 % as a contribution to the State Pension fund (SPK). Standard employment conditions for state employees in Norway apply for the position.

An annual allowance of 20 000 NOK for literature and other necessary academic activities.

Office space in a professionally stimulating working environment.

The application

The application must include:

  • An application letter describing relevant background, motivation, research experience and network (two A4 pages maximum).
  • A project description of maximum 5 pages that gives an overview of 1) the research field and research questions, 2) theoretical approach/methods and 3) empirical and/or case study material.
  • CV
  • Certified copies of educational certificates, transcript of records, diplomas
  • Examples of work written by the applicant, and/or examples of architecture/urbanism/planning projects by the applicant, with relevance to the research project. Five works maximum.
  • 3 references (names, relation to candidate, contact details).Applications must be sent via jobbnorge.no

The material for the PhD application will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • The quality of the project description (outline)
  • The applicant's suitability for the research tasks, based on previous practical and academic work.
  • The academic competence of the applicant

Formal regulations:

The educational component in the AHO PhD Programme is mandatory and requires fulltime attendance. Residency in Oslo for the employment period is mandatory. Research stay at a relevant international academic institution is encouraged. The PhD fellowship will start September 1, 2024.

AHO expects all proposed projects to follow current national research ethics guidelines.

Apply for position

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