Urban Design

UD is concerned with the urban: Its object is the contemporary-future urban society in the practice(d) forms of its co- and constant re-production. To understand the city as historically developed and produced involves turning to its uses through very diverse users and ways of use – it is from within this assemblage of practices of humans and non-humans that the interdependencies of the urban emerge.

UD is pro-discipline: Urban Design re-assembles heterogeneous motifs and disciplinary knowledges of the city. Such co-production of different actors with various disciplinary backgrounds aims at relationally unlocking the potentials of the urban. UD assembles all those disciplines that are concerned with urban and spatial production, for instance architecture, urban planning, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, geography, landscape planning, interior design, cultural studies, landscape architecture, ethnology, tbc.

UD knows what it does: What is at stake is to develop, test and convey an appropriate methodology and form of knowledge for the interaction with the city in terms of research and design. To this end, studying and designing procedures are linked together, so as to combine knowledge originating in theoretical conceptualisations of and empirical experiences with the urban with knowledge that derives from practicing design methods. The analysis of the existing is the foundation of this approach.

UD mobilises the urban: When we talk about design, we refer to the design(ing) of the urban. UD makes visible and negotiable the knowledge of/about urban situations so as to unlock and demonstrate potentialities hidden therein. What emerges are lenses, dispositives and perspectives of reading the city as quintessential products of Urban Design. These products provide the material with which new ways of producing the urban can be developed.

Studying Urban Design

Studying Urban Design at HCU entails a sound knowledge of research and designing practices. The master programme 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

Course of Studies

The Master of Science programme 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 programme. 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 programme 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 programmes 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 programme 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 programmes 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 Programme (FaSt): This transdisciplinary teaching area is open to participants from all study programmes 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 programme 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. programme 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.