Dr Aurel von Richthofen is a researcher, architect and urban designer. He leads the practice aurelVR that entered numerous international competitions and worked on several private commissions. As senior researcher Aurel leads the Education Research programme at the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore. His current research investigates cities as dynamic and complex systems with the project 'Semantic Urban Elements'.

Dr Aurel von Richthofen is a researcher, architect and urban designer. He graduated in architecture and urban design from ETH Zürich and Princeton University. He completed his PhD at the Technical University of Braunschweig on the topic of ‘Spatial Diversity and Sustainable Urbanisation in Oman’. Aurel is a registered architect in Berlin, Germany and Zurich, Switzerland. His exploratory design practice aurelVR entered multiple international competitions and worked on several private commission. Aurel worked as consultant to the Oman National Spatial Strategy group and wrote reports for the World Bank in Singapore. 

As senior researcher Aurel leads the Education Research programme at the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore. The Education Research programme frames a loop between research and teaching. The programme defines education research topics arising from research projects and scenarios. It develops teaching methods to deliver communicable, teachable and applicable outcomes for urban design to be delivered to Singaporean authorities, and universities. Teaching frameworks, in return, inform research questions at FCL. The programme’s output are a series of courses, digital tools and scientific articles reflecting on the research methods developed.

His current research investigates cities as dynamic and complex systems - constantly changeable in form, technology and everyday life. Semantic descriptions as relational systems account for the increasing complexity and continuous development of the field. The project 'Semantic Urban Elements' and explores responsive new computational urban analysis, design and communication tools based on the ‘Urban Elements’ method developed in the Education Research Programme.

Aurel has an extensive teaching experience. He taught option studios at the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment (SDE) Department of Architecture (DoA), advanced studies in urban design for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and leads the ETH-Singapore Month exchange programme. He taught urban spatial reasoning and representation at Yale NUS. From 2010 - 2014 he taught at the German University of Technology (GUtech) in Oman affiliated to RWTH Aachen in Germany. From 2007 - 2010, Aurel taught architectural design, architectural theory, parametric design and digital fabrication at the Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, U.S.A.

Aurel's list of publications can be found on Zotero and the FCL webpage.



aurelVR is a trans-disciplinary practice of architecture and urban design. Our design approach is based in scientific evidence. We develop our own analysis and design tools that draw from data and computer science. We script and code at all stages of design to explore design spaces and to communicate to people and machines. We collect our design knowledge in design ontologies and use semantic web technologies. We strive for sustainable, responsible, and fair architecture and urban design and we aim to practice it.

Portfolio 2009-2013

This portfolio collects three lines of investigation explored simultaneously and mutually re-enforcing the work produced by aurelVR during 2009-2013: Research, Teaching and Practice. Research on urbanization in Oman and the Gulf marks a new field of investigation of design processes and spatial organization beyond form. Teaching expands in the same direction using digital tools to support design and research. The design part, finally, collects various projects done with aurelVR in Berlin and Oman.