Urban Design

Urban Design (M.Sc.) at HafenCity University addresses the interrelated and complex ecological, political, and spatial issues and challenges of contemporary urban life by critically analyzing their entangled state(s); and creatively engaging with the potential of design in responding to them.

Urban Design prioritizes approaches to the urban as a relationally developed and continuously re/produced and open process shaped by historical contingencies, various human and non-human agencies, socio-material practices, and spatial imaginaries. The study program Urban Design aims to understand those urban configurations and relevant knowledge(s), thus making them negotiable and tangible to co-produce potentialities to inform urban transformation processes better.

Urban Design approaches to design(ing) as a co-produced and care-full practice that not only emerges through individual capacities (of specific disciplines or actors) but also through mediated interrelations and dependencies unfolding in and through urban everyday spaces. Thus, Urban Design orchestrates trans and inter-disciplinary knowledge production in urban and spatial practice and research by accommodating teaching staff and students with backgrounds in architecture, urban planning, urban sociology, anthropology, philosophy, geography, interior design, cultural studies, landscape architecture, and ethnology. What is at stake is to develop a robust analytical and practical framework for urban research, design and practice in engaging with the complex urban issues of our times.

Studying Urban Design

Studying Urban Design at HCU entails a sound knowledge of research and designing practices. The master program focuses on conceptual modes of working, in-depth analyses, experimental forms of scientific interventions, and process-oriented strategies of planning. The courses convey qualification objectives in the following fields:

● Training and application of different qualitative research and analytic methods in the field of the production of urban space.
● Experimental trial of design and transformation techniques
● Developing conceptual and strategic approaches in urban development
● Cultivation of team-oriented, interdisciplinary workflows
● Competencies to communicate acquired knowledge
● Expertise oriented towards innovative research issues
● Contemporary urban positions and theoretical discourses
● Competencies in autonomous scientific research

Application period: 01.06. to 15.07.2023 Here for more information.

Course of Studies

The Master of Science program is comprised of four semesters. It is divided into five teaching areas that consist of compulsory and elective individual modules. The Urban Design Project forms the main focus of the program. The project courses run throughout one and a half years up until the master thesis. The Urban Design Project is supplemented by a broad spectrum of methods and skills: Research and Design Methodology (Urban Territories) and Urban Discourses (Transformations) are further important components of the master program in the first year of study. Students can choose electives from a broad offer in the teaching area Methods, Tools and Theory - Specialisation that includes all the study programs at HCU Hamburg and in this way focus on their individual interests. In the third semester, students can choose to study at one of the partner universities of HCU Hamburg (optional). The master study program is completed with an autonomous academic and/or project-specific master thesis in the fourth semester. At graduation, students are awarded the title “Master of Science” (M.Sc.).

Teaching Areas: Urban Design Project: For the main pillar of the Urban Design Master course, students carry out independent work in the field of analysis and research as well as planning and design.

Research and Design Methodology: The course ‘Urban Territories’ offers an introduction to qualitative and social science research methods, ethnography and other field research and design methods including field work.

Urban Discourses in Urban Design: The course ‘Transformations’ deals with the different models of urban theory – from the precursors of modern urban design to contemporary debates.

Methods, Tools and Theory - Specialisation: The electives focus on gaining and building on theoretical, methodical and design competencies. Students have access to a broad range of courses from all study programs at HCU Hamburg.

Methods, Tools and Theory – Application: These courses allow students to reflect and apply their acquired scientific and/or design methods and knowledge in order to focus on topic, methods and design of their envisaged master thesis.

Cross-curricular Program (FaSt): This transdisciplinary teaching area is open to participants from all study programs at HCU Hamburg and encourages creative thinking and a flexible mind in classes and projects from fields of natural science and engineering, humanities and social sciences and design.

Admission Requirements

The Master program Urban Design attracts people from theory and practice backgrounds and a broad range of disciplines and professional fields with an interest in gaining further qualifications in the field of applied urban research and the design of urban environments. Information on admission regulations can be found here.

Chamber of Architects: Graduates from the Urban Design M.Sc. program can be admitted to the chamber of architects in consultation with the respective organisation. A Bachelor in Architecture, relevant courses on Master level as well as professional experience are mandatory. Please refer to the professional qualification guideline by the Bundes Architekten Kammer and make use of the study advisory service.