If urban sprawl is to be stopped, the use of developed areas needs to be intensified. The results of the now completed National Research Programme "New Urban Quality" (NRP 65) show new ways of remodelling suburban areas. Developing building and land use in suburban areas will improve quality of life and efficiency in the densely populated Swiss plateau.
To stop urban sprawl and protect landscapes, suburban areas in Switzerland need to develop inwards. This strategy is widely accepted and has political backing. But implementation poses many challenges because greater density does not automatically produce a good quality of life.
The expected re-development will affect large portions of the Swiss population: Switzerland has become a largely urbanised country in the last hundred years and developed areas are continuing to expand. There now is a need to improve urban quality in Switzerland. In this context, the National Research Programme "New Urban Quality" (NRP 65) is presenting its results and recommendations.
Urbanisation of suburban areas
The research focus of NRP 65 lies on urban quality in suburbs. Urban agglomerations, where around 73% of the Swiss population live, will need to be remodelled into cities with high urban quality. The motto of spatial development in the future needs to be "Love for the city rather than for the countryside", if we aim for energy efficiency and good use of space.
"Suburban areas are unfinished settlements", says Jürg Sulzer, president of the Steering Committee of NRP 65, professor at Dresden University and former urban planner of the city of Bern. He adds that these areas need to be urbanised in order to achieve a new urban quality:
"We need to promote the urbanisation of suburban areas." He emphasises that this is not only a planning issue but also a social and political challenge: "Only few people benefit from the exceptional quality of life offered by historical inner cities. We need to improve the quality of life in suburban areas to promote social cohesion."
What does urban quality mean?
Urban quality focuses on key questions of well-being and quality of life in relation to living spaces. The emphasis of new urban quality lies on social and use-related density, short distances in cities and a special quality of urban experience. Also important is the identification of citizens with their built environment.
Depending on the town or city, urban quality can take on a different meaning. The particularities of each place and the needs of its inhabitants have to be taken into account. A research team has elaborated seven urban qualities to develop urban profiles and to discuss future urban development: centrality, accessibility, usability, adaptability, appropriation, diversity and interaction.
The researchers of NRP 65 have also developed modelling and visualisation platforms that make it possible to take account of subjective user perspectives. They make it possible to visualise and discuss how the needs of different users or owners impact spatial areas.
Recommendations to remodel suburban areas
The synthesis products of NRP 65 include two publications which present research results as well as recommendations. Jürg Sulzer summarises: "The urbanisation of suburban areas will be one of the core tasks of the 21st century." The first steps towards this remodelling, he adds, need to be taken today as the process will take more than half a century to complete. The recommendations include:
• We need a campaign for the design of public spaces. The creation of clearly structured public spaces needs to become the backbone of remodelling built spaces.
• Higher density of use in urbanised neighbourhoods needs to be compensated through new approaches to open spaces and concepts such as urban gardening and farming.
• The small-plot structure of traditional neighbourhoods with detached houses offers the opportunity to gradually increase the intensity of use in small-unit structures.
Brigit Wehrli, former head of urban development in Zurich and member of the Steering Committee of NRP 65, has been in charge of elaborating practice-oriented recommendations helping to make urban quality a reality: "In terms of larger development projects, there is no lack of ideas targeting good quality. But these ideas are often eroded and neglected in the planning process. In spatial development, we need planning and decision processes that are transparent, easily understandable und discursive."
A scientific approach across disciplinary boundaries is key; it needs to be combined with participatory opportunities for those affected by the development and good overall urban planning. Furthermore, a sense of place is of great importance: councils need to make sure that public interests are considered in private projects. Collaborative platforms make it possible to visualise planning processes step by step so that long-term targets and impacts can be communicated to politicians and the broader public. Suburban remodelling needs to be based on clear visions of the future that incorporate criteria such as diversity of use, aesthetic expectations for urban spaces and "distinctness".
This is a challenge for cantons and local authorities as well as property owners, private developers and investors. Cooperative planning processes with early involvement of the authorities, owners, neighbours and other stakeholders deserve more support. They are essential for achieving the necessary density and quality of urban areas in Switzerland.
Two synthesis reports summarise the research results of NRP 65 "New Urban Quality":
Sulzer, Jürg and Desax, Martina (Eds): Stadtwerdung der Agglomeration. Die Suche nach einer neuen urbanen Qualität. Scheidegger & Spiess, Zürich, 2015 (available in German and French)
Wehrli-Schindler, Brigit (Ed): Urbane Qualität für Stadt und Umland. Ein Wegweiser zur nachhaltigen Raumentwicklung. Scheidegger & Spiess, Zürich, 2015 (available in German and French)
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürg Sulzer
President of the Steering Committee of NRP 65
Tel.: 079 756 92 20
Head of Science Communication
Swiss National Science Foundation
Tel.: 076 465 21 72
Martina Stofer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Concrete from wood
05.07.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
Modular storage tank for tight spaces
16.03.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine