Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani hasn't just written definitive reference works on urban planning and shaped a generation of ETH architects; he has also run numerous projects of his own. Now, the charismatic Chair for the History of Urban Design is about to retire.

His favourite book is Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, but Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani has little in common with the title character, who refrains from committing himself to anything. The ETH professor has been active in the field of urban planning for almost 40 years, commenting on current issues, evaluating the quality of public squares and districts, and making his own architectural recommendations. He is well aware that this means getting involved in an important public discourse. His motto: “People should always be the point of reference for urban planning. Good architecture offers the best possible quality of life.”

But Lampugnani is not some daredevil provocateur – quite the opposite. He considers every word he says, takes his time, thinks things over, and even describes himself as slow. Yet he has a swift response to the question of what significance ETH holds for him: “ETH is a part of my life. I can't imagine a better fit for my work – here, I have had the opportunity to create the ideal combination of teaching and research.” Which brings the architecture professor to one of his favourite topics: his students.

In his farewell lecture, Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani will discuss what can be learned from engaging with the city, how to go about doing so, and how to apply the lessons learned. He invites listeners on a stroll through the history of public squares, from the Piazza della Repubblica in Florence to the Place des Vosges in Paris, and from ancient Roman forums to today’s Richtiplatz in Wallisellen.

Professor Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani’s farewell lecture:
“Das Wissen von der Stadt. Auslegeordnung für eine anwendungsbezogene Grundlagenforschung”
(“Knowledge of (and from) the city: A guide to application-oriented basic research”; in German)

1 June 2017, 5.15 p.m., Auditorium Maximum, ETH Zurich main building