Hamburg Open Online University. Learning with urban typologies - Videography as collaborative methodology in interdisciplinary urban research


The project Of Houses and Men, or Learning with urban typologies – videography in urban research attempts to research into the medium film regarding its potentials in urban research. Translated into an e-learning format, it aims to open up the potentials of diagrammatic means of representation of the researching and planning disciplines. The question of representation is decisive as we are concerned with producing and mediating knowledge over design processes. Design is here understood as collaborative process and various actors are involved in producing space and the city.

Friedrichstadt serves as a first case study of urban typologies. The material has been collected in the context of the project Friedrichstadt: what is your potential? Friedrichstadt – competition future city of the German Ministry for Education and Science. The medium film has been tested in three compact teaching courses (Summer, Autumn and Spring School) and was continuously developed further. Together with accompanying methods such as archival research, literature review, conversations, interviews, drawings and photography, film has served to provide a basis for the catalogue of different housing and house biographies. These house biographies tell stories of inhabitants, of buildings, of things and furniture in the houses, of architecture and adaptations, of urban processes and developments. They can also be viewed with regards to specific situations, so as to compare things, rooms, thresholds and activities. The focus is on applied architecture and architecture as process.
The results of this kind of design research open up new opportunities for design in inter- and transdisciplinary projects. As potentially open platform, the teaching format develops a digital archive that can and shall be extended through further house biographies from other cities, further methods and theories from other disciplines as well as through design projections.

The seminar Of Houses and Men, or Learning with urban typologies – videography in urban research will be the first rehearsal of this extension and in-depth analysis. It attempts to test in practice the format developed for the online learning platform HOOU in teaching practice and to strengthen the analysis across scales of urban stock regarding its potentials and to contribute to the platform with new case studies and cities. Students will work in interdisciplinary groups and under interdisciplinary direction. They will engage with different methods and perspectives.

The seminar addresses both students of the designing disciplines and those with strong research interests with the aim of broadening their spectrum of knowing and using methods so as to enable them to develop new paths of knowledge production in research and design and to mediate these adequately. The seminar thus works to gain an understanding of the challenges presented in an increasingly urbanised society and the socially relevant questions arising from these processes.



Project duration: December 2017 – December 2018


Prof. Dipl. Ing. Bernd Kniess


Professor, Urban Design

Dr. Anna Richter


Post-doctoral Researcher

M.A. Marieke Behne


Academic Staff, Ph.D. Candidate