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Towards Vertical Urbanism

DRX 2015

We live in a rapidly urbanizing world: By 2050 almost 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. As metropolises continue to densify and the average height of buildings reach ever skyward, high-rise towers will play an integral role in the dynamic evolution of our future urban landscapes. However, this vertical expansion and its currently unresolved relationship to the horizontal plane, pose a new set of challenges.

In 2015 the DRX will address these challenges and continue its investigation of high-rise research and design strategies in search of innovative and prototypical models for our future cities.

I: Urbanity & Integration

Historically, cities have been horizontally organized systems, comprised of plazas, streets, buildings, blocks, and parks. They all play an integral role in shaping the image of the city and set the stage for a vibrant public life. High-rise buildings, however, are often singularly programmed entities, disassociated from the surrounding urban context providing little added value to the urban community.

- How can we translate the dynamic urban qualities of a horizontal city into the vertical tower?

- How can the tower itself be harmoniously integrated into the existing urban fabric?

II: Accessibility & Flow

The elevator, providing an efficient mode of vertical circulation, has greatly enabled the development of the high-rise tower. However, due to its strict mode of destination-oriented, unidirectional movement, it simultaneously limits the user experience.

- How can we develop alternative modes of circulation within a tower, just as a city can be experienced in different ways and velocities?

- How can the transition of horizontal locomotion and vertical transportation be organized within and across multiple buildings?

III: Climate & Atmosphere

High-rise towers are often hermetically sealed, fully climatized environments, which exclude (or limit) exterior conditions such as daylight and natural ventilation.

- How can we set up natural conditions to create “micro-climates” which translate the exterior qualities of the city into the context of the high-rise tower?

- How can the boundary between inside and outside be dissolved?


20.07.2015   KICK-OFF EVENT (please RSVP here)

                       17:30     Doors open

                       18:00 ​    Welcome: Moritz Fleischmann & Martin Henn, HENN
                       18:20​     Keynote 1: ​Dieter Hassenpflug, URBAN SOLUTIONS

                       18:40​     Keynote 2: ​Julian Olley, ARUP
                       19:00​     Keynote 3: ​Stefan Holst, TRANSSOLAR

​​​                       19:30     ​Welcome & Drinks

17.08.2015     MID-REVIEW

​​​                       13:00     ​Lecture: Thomas Ehrl, ThyssenKrupp Research
                       14:00     Presentations and Jury

04.09.2015    FINAL REVIEW

                       14:00     Presentations and Jury



The DRX is a residency programme for researchers, hosted by HENN. The DRX 2015 - Towards Vertical Urbanism will take place from July 20th until September 6th 2015 in Berlin.




Thomas Auer started his career shortly after Transsolar was founded and his outstanding engineering aptitude and leadership qualities quickly brought him onto the management board of the company. Based on his deep understanding of integrated building systems and energy efficiency in buildings, Thomas Auer has developed energy and building service concepts for projects around the world noted for their innovative design and energy performance. His concepts are an integral part of signature architecture. His projects have become milestones in the history of the company. Thomas Auer has collaborated with world known architects on numerous international design projects and competitions. Manitoba Hydro, an office tower in downtown Winnipeg Canada, is considered one of the most energy efficient high rise buildings in North America. Thomas has also developed strategies for carbon neutral urban developments such as the Toronto Lower Don. Since 2014 Thomas is Prof. for building technology and climate responsive design at the technical university of Munich.

Dieter Hassenpflug studied economics, sociology and philosophy at the FU and TU Berlin and the Technical University Berlin.
Lecturer at TU Berlin, Berlin College of Economics, Kassel University, J. W. Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Bauhaus-University Weimar, where he held the chair of Urban Sociology from 1993 to 2011.
Visiting scholar at many universities worldwide, primarily in China at Harbin Institute of Technol-ogy (2003 - 2005) and Tongji-University Shanghai (2004 and 2007).
From 1999 to 2006 founding director of the Institute for European Urban Studies (IfEU) at Bauhaus-University Weimar where he established the first German-Chinese double degree master program for Urban Designers in Germany together with the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) at Tongji-University Shanghai. Since 2009 visiting scholar at Main Research Area ‘Urban Systems’ at University Duisburg-Essen, where he helped to develop an international doctoral program and two international master programs. Author of numerous scientific articles and books, e.g. ‘The Urban Code of China’, which since 2010 has been translated into several languages.
Member of the advisory board of Robert Bosch Foundation, inter alia.

Martin Henn studied architecture at the University of Stuttgart and at the ETH, Zurich. He received his Master’s Degree in Architecture from the ETH, Zurich in 2006, and his Post-Professional Master of Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, New York in 2008. Prior to HENN, he was working for Zaha Hadid Architects inLondon and Asymptote Architecture in New York. Martin Henn is Head of Design at HENN and partner since 2012.

Julian Olley is Electrical Engineer and the director responsible for leading the Arup vertical transportation group. He has been involved in all aspects of the design of commercial office, retail, hotel and residential developments. Julian Olley has a particular interest in the design of vertical transportation systems for tall and very tall mixed use buildings. His wide experience in leading multi-disciplinary teams leads him to take a holistic view of the design of transportation, rather than one limited to simply giving specialist advice. 

Thomas Auer

Dieter Hassenpflug

Martin Henn
Dipl.-Arch. ETH & M.S. AAD

Julian Olley