Urban Oman Research

The research project “Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanization” founded by The Research Council Oman (TRC) has lead to various collaborations with other international academic institutions. As co-investigator on the project in Oman, I have been coordinating these exchanges and channeling them into significant contributions to the larger research project while providing the students with academic frame-work, access and exposure.

The partner university of the German University of Technology in Oman, Rheinisch Westphälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH) in Germany, sends graduating students to Oman to work their Master thesis in urban design. Their work focusses on re-densification strategies within the large sub-urban sprawl of Muscat. Their thesis claims that urban density is key to measure urban sustainability in a city that expanded very fast and where large distances increase the demand for mobility and consumption of resources. 

Two diploma candidates at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH Studio Basel contribute to an urban portrait of Muscat and Oman. After a semester of analytical research they will produce an urban design based on the thesis that water had a particular role in the development of vernacular urban patterns. Due to its scarcity and the extreme climate, water was put to many uses by means of sophisticated “falaj” systems – a century old irrigation system, that shaped farming and settlement patterns, thereby forming a unique social and cultural landscape. A contemporary approach to urbanism in Oman re-addressing water could lead to a new, including, ecological and social urbanization pattern. 

Three Technische Universität Berlin students working on their Master thesis in urban management examine detailed processes of urbanization ranging from climate responsive urban design to rural urban linkages to good governance and land-use allocation in Oman. These written theses contribute to the research reports. Students at undergraduate level at GUtech learn research methods by applying Geo-Information Systems (GIS) while drawing maps and diagrams of research focal areas. 


Institution: Rheinisch Westphälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH)

Year: 2013 – present 

Type: Co-Examiner on MA Thesis Urban Design

Students: Two masters candidates


Institution: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH Studio Basel

Year: 2013 – present 

Type: Co-Examiner on Diploma Thesis Architecture

Students: Two diploma candidates


Institution: Technische Universität Berlin

Year: 2012

Type: Co-Examiner on MA Thesis Urban Management

Students: Three masters candidates


Institution: German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech)

Year: 2012–2013

Type: Elective Seminar on Geo Information Systems

Students: 36 Undergraduate students


Institution: German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech)

Year: 2011

Type: Consultancy / Research workshop 

towards the urban redevelopment of the historic core 

of Muscat, namely Muttrah

Students: 15 Undergraduate students

Land-use map of neighborhoods in Muscat, Oman
Land-use map of neighborhoods in Muscat, Oman

Parametric Urban Design Model / Qurm

Within the research project, we developed tools and methods to map these environmental, cultural and programmatic parameters into a cohesive urban design mechanism. This mechanism can be adapted and applied to any site in Oman or the Gulf region from the scale of a few houses to larger mixed use developments.

Scitech TV - Houses

Scitech TV documents the research project sponsored by the Research Council Oman "Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanisation in Oman" conducted by GUtech and SQU, featuring Aurel von Richthofen and Haitham Al Busafi as well as GUtech students.


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.