Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, “The City as Accumulated Knowledge: Urban Design and Research”

Photograph pf a multi-story white building complex near train tracks.

Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani and Baukontor Architekten, Richti urban quarter, Wallisellen near Zurich, 2007-2014. Photograph: Goran Potkonjak.

Registration Information
The GSD’s Fall 2021 Public Programs are all virtual and require registration.

Click here to register for Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, “The City as Accumulated Knowledge: Urban Design and Research”.

The event will also be live streamed to the Harvard GSD YouTube page. Only viewers who are attending the lecture via Zoom will be able to submit questions for the Q+A. If you would like to submit questions for the speaker in advance of the event, please click here.

Live captioning will be provided during this event. 

Event Description

Like architecture and landscape architecture, but possibly even more so, urban design is a discipline that relies on precise and complex knowledge. This knowledge has been patiently accumulated over time and is the sum of the intelligence, experience, and creativity of those who have built up our cities and the discipline itself.

The lecture addresses this layered historical and contemporary knowledge of the city: How can we really see our built environment and understand its intertwinings that reveal and create genealogies? How can we organise its solutions in compendiums that preserve the theoretical principles and the tools used to design cities? And, finally, how do we extend this knowledge to contemporary urban projects, while avoiding imitation or replication? The case studies and examples of this talk will be European, but the methodology proposed can be applied to very different cultural contexts. The intention is to show how existing cities, examined with critical care, can be lessons for design itself – not limiting the creative possibilities of urban design today, but on the contrary giving it a solid disciplinary basis on which it can reinvent itself.

This event is supported by the Walter Gropius Lecture Fund.


Headshot of Vittorio Lampugnani who wears a white collared shirt and has short gray hair. There is a brick column behind him.Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani studied architecture at Sapienza University and the University of Stuttgart, where he obtained his PhD. He played a seminal role in the International Building Exhibition in Berlin, while serving as a member of the editorial board of the magazine Casabella in Milan. He later served as chief editor of Domus magazine and as the director of the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt am Main. From 1994 until 2016 he held the chair for History of Urban Design at ETH Zurich. Since 1981, he has headed the Studio di Architettura in Milan and, since 2010 and together with a partner, Baukontor Architekten in Zurich.

In his writing, his teaching and his practice, Lampugnani has consistently advocated for architectural and urban sustainability. His own projects, from the Novartis Campus in Basel to the Richti urban quarter and the office building on Schiffbauplatz, both in Zurich, are examples of an urban architecture that tries to comply with the imperative of A Radical Normal (the title of his latest book) and with the challenges of our earth’s limited resources.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].