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Urban Metamorphoses



The Urban Metamorphoses research group at the HafenCity University in Hamburg is dedicated to transdisciplinary research of the social, cultural, economic, ecological, and spatial challenges of understanding the processes of change in urban and city contexts. Cities are constantly changing in a multitude of different aspects and dimensions, but systematic research on the forces and impacts of urban planning interventions in the context of the complexity of urban change rarely exists though it is key for understanding the conditions of the production of space in our contemporary urban societies. The research of urban metamorphoses is the attempt to better understand the forces driving the process of urban change in order to establish transdisciplinary research methods as well as relational and action-oriented strategies for sustainable future urban developments.


The term Urban Metamorphoses encompasses the dynamically changing relationship of the old and the new in the production of urban space, challenging the concept of a structuring role of fixed origin. This approach of exposing the complexity of changing urban agents asserts that the city itself is the most important architect for its improvement.




The research of urban metamorphoses addresses the process of urban change, its different contexts of development, the related conditions and driving forces as well as their intrinsic interconnections. As the only university in Europe focusing exclusively on the built environment and metropolitan development, HafenCity University provides the ideal framework for this transdisciplinary research approach. Participating professors and disciplines include:

Prof. Dr. Michael Koch
Urban Design and District Planning (spokesperson)

Prof. Dr. Ingrid Breckner  
Urban and Regional Sociology (deputy spokesperson)

Prof. Dr. Angelus Eisinger
Metropolitan History and Culture

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Dickhaut
Environmentally Sound Urban- and Infrastructure Planning

Prof. Thomas Kersten
Photogrammetry and Laser Scanning

Prof. Bernd Kniess
Urban Design

Prof. Dr. Dieter Läpple
Urban and Regional Economy 

Prof. Dr. Alenka Poplin
Computer-based Methods in Urban and Regional Planning

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Willkomm
Architecture and Resource Efficiency in Architecture and Planning




In this multidisciplinary research composition, highly qualified and experienced researchers coming from the humanities, social and engineering sciences, urban planning, and architecture work together in a creative scientific discourse. To transfer the results of systematic research of planning impacts into the praxis of urban planning and design, the integration of new information and communication technologies are of great importance. Combining narrative and process-oriented illustration methods, these technologies help to link relevant knowledge about urban development processes not only in a systematic way, but also with an approach appropriate for practical applications. The future-oriented design of Urban Metamorphoses has the potential to internationally establish a transdisciplinary approach to the process of urban change, which is one of the most pressing questions for urban research in the next decades. 




Timothy Pape
Scientific Coordinator

HafenCity University Hamburg
Überseeallee 16, R. 3.111.2
D – 22085 Hamburg
phone +49 (0)40-42827.5203