Envisioning Tomorrow’s Cities O.M.Ungers’ Urban Reflections - Call for Papers - HPA 12/2023


Against the background of crisis that the city is confronted with today, this Call for Papers is addressed to those truly visionary and experimental aspects, in the research of the German architect Oswald Mathias Ungers (1926-2007), that can serve as a starting point for the visions of the cities of tomorrow and that, so far, scholarly work has not sufficiently deepened.

This Call for papers focuses on Ungers’ radical vision of future cities that exceeds his rational approach to form, morphology and urban transformation, to which he is too often reduced, despite his multifarious activities as a visionary architect, farsighted planner and scrupulous intellectual.

A look with new eyes at the urban visions that Ungers developed in the Sixties and Seventies, can open fresh insights into the increasingly complex contemporary urban systems, as diversity, new traffic systems, climate change, biodiversity, affordable housing, land and energy sustainability, and stimulate imaginative reflections and scenarios for new urban perspectives.

The City in the City: Berlin Green Archipelago is one of the many original ideas for investigating Ungers’ experiments regarding the future city, it allows the appraisal of his critical commitments and thoughts with the cultural experience of the city itself. The work of Oswald Mathias Ungers constitutes an inexhaustible source of research for its power to embrace the most diverse fields of culture, art, literature, sociology, economics, and photography. Everything seems to have been explored by contemplating the most different aspects. His desire was to catalogue and address all the possibilities of action in the field of the transformation of the built environment, whether it is landscape, public space, or a simple dwelling.

On the one hand, his experiments concerning the architectural work, such as geometry, form, the relationship with images, analogy, and the autonomy of architecture seem to have already been partly explored. On the other hand, it seems necessary to address a critical analysis of his urban projects from a contemporary perspective.

We therefore suggest the following binomials, that may offer new ways of interpretation:

  • Utopia/Dystopia
  • Ecology/Biodiversity
  • Rhetoric/Humanism
  • Universality/Eurocentrism
  • Morphology/Transformation
  • Postmodernism/Posthumanism

The aim is to analyse the ideas of city experimented by Ungers, generated also in a comparison with others European design experiences: from the research conducted inside the Team X, to the research at the TU Berlin and Cornell University. The purpose is to define a range of possible cityscapes, useful to set a series of theoretical references and scenarios.

The intention is not to celebrate a remote past in a rhetorical way, but to turn the attention to a design methodology based on an organic study of the city.

Vittorio Gregotti was the first, with Pierluigi Nicolin, to publish the German architect’s seminal research in Italy. In the introductory text to his work, published in the early Seventies in «Lotus international» magazine, he describes Ungers’ willingness to place fixed points, literally ‘hammering in nails’ with the design process. He pointed out Ungers’ rigorous array of syntactic alternatives and the will to examine all the combinatorial possibilities. The value of these classifications lies in their relationship with history, in the progressive character and in the possibility of offering operational hints for contemporary urban planning.

The city of Berlin was for Ungers an extensive field of experimentation and, precisely in relation to the actions developed in the city following the fall of the wall, he lamented the lack of a clear perspective for the development of the city itself: “If no one makes the effort to elaborate a general structure and to identify plans that deal with the city seen as a complex structure, then the result can only be fragmentary work and a general bewilderment.”

Re-reading today the urban speculations developed by Ungers can be an opportunity to look at the contemporary situation of cities and territory with a broad and radical vision, imagining a potential future.

Papers should be submitted in English using

The guidelines for paper submission are available at

Please, fill in the author’s profile with all the informations required as:

  • Applicant’s name
  • Professional affiliation
  • Title of paper
  • Abstract
  • 5 keywords
  • A brief CV (max 2,000 characters)

Please submit the proposal in the form of MS Word (length between 15,000 and 35,000 characters with up to six images). The submitted paper must be anonymous. Please delete from the text and file’s properties all informations about name, administrator etc. Papers should clearly define the argument in relation to the available literature and indicate the sources which the paper is based on. All papers received will go through a process of double-blind peer review before publication.
HPA also looks for contributions for the review section.


Authors must submit directly full papers by September 30, 2023

Accepted authors will be notified by October 31, 2023

Publication is expected to be in December 2023