Imagining and Designing Cities

Valerio Morabito

→ 10/02/2023

Imagining and designing cities is a collection of a few drawings concerning cities around the world.

Some of them are part of the drawings I realized at the American Academy of Rome in 2022. Others are drawings about Lisbon that have visited many years ago, and now I have drawn for this exhibition.

My cities are collections of details reused to imagine and design new cities’ ideas and shapes. The imagination for the drawings comes to life in the wilderness of cities rather than in nature. Without any heroic emphasis, they result from observing traces, evident or discreet, in imperfect urban landscapes. No single drawing in this exhibition represents a city in-situ; all are interpretations, translations, and combinations of many different places, stories, and books.

I work with abstraction, which is a gesture of the mind rather than a representation of forms.

There are no people in my drawings because cities are entities in themselves. Even though people are not there, I imagine how they transform the city. But, of course, human beings are the soul of cities. So, they are felt but not represented in my drawings.

I am not interested in the accurate shapes or forms of cities that force a predetermined scale. Instead, I’m recreating what I think the cities are in my drawings. As such, the cities are still alive representations without function or activities.

These selected drawings, realized on canvases and oil colors, delineate a personal city idea free from any geometrical conditioning. Yet, even if I use oil colored on canvases, I believe they still are drawings that represent cities that could have been and could be but are not; an exercise in the search for design ideas—an imagining of what could be.

Valerio Morabito





MC / DGArtes

Apoio institucional:

Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Lisbona


Valerio Morabito is a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Mediterranean University in Italy. For almost 20 years, he was an Adjunct Professor at The Department of Landscape Architecture, Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, USA.

In 2022, Morabito won a fellowship at the prestigious American Academy in Rome, and he spent five months in Rome, where he designed big drawings representing American Cities.

He has published many articles and books. The book The City of Imagination is a collection of more than 150 drawings imagining cities worldwide.

He founded the Mediterranean University spin-off APScape. This company investigates the ecology and resilience of landscape, developing ideas for public parks, public spaces, sustainable buildings, green infrastructure, and green strategies, winning many competitions and realizing projects in Italy, China, and the USA.