The research project Semantic Urban Elements explores new computational methods to harness urban knowledge graphs and semantic urban design.

Cities are becoming increasingly dynamic and complex systems - constantly changeable in form, technology and everyday life. Yet, current practices of planning and urban design remain rigid structures of review and adjustment, and are misaligned to the emerging virtualisation of the city which is permanently in flux. The emergence of knowledge graphs, artificial intelligence (AI) and the possibility of perpetually adjustable parameters demands that a new kind of planning be developed. The project asks how semantic technologies can be harnessed for urban design and planning for1) evidence-based knowledge formation;2) real-time computation; and3) new tools for collaboration and interaction, design space exploration, scenario development, and governance systems.



Next to architectural and urban design projects aurelVR produces books on specific topics of architecture and urban design, design education, design computation and urban geography.


We develop and use digital tools for analysis, design, communication, and education. Our tools harness data and technology both critically and productively. These tools address the analytical, generative, simulation, visualisation and communication domains of design processes.


The research on Education aims to transform the interdisciplinary research findings into communicable, teachable and applicable outcomes for urban design by the development of so called 'Urban Elements’ and the development of Engagement Formats.


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'.