Urban Potentials and Strategies in Metropolitan Territories


The project compared three urban case studies: Limmatplatz-Wiedikon (urban neighbourhood), Oerlikon-Zurich Airport (suburban area) and Richterswil-Freienbach (periurban area). Seven criteria to describe urban quality were generated: centrality, accessibility, usability, adaptability, appropriation, diversity and interaction.

Project description (completed research project)

The current political situation and continuing economic and population growth in Switzerland offer a major opportunity to upgrade and optimize the urban stock. In 2005, the Swiss Federal Council mandated the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) to develop the so-called "Spatial Concept Switzerland", a revised version of which was issued at the start of 2013. The Spatial Concept defines key strategic priorities for the future spatial development of Switzerland: the promotion of cross-border thinking and action regarding functional spaces, improved coordination between urban, landscape and infrastructure development, and, in particular, the systematic concentration of urban development in existing built-up areas.

The research project makes a qualified contribution to the current debate in Switzerland on urban and spatial development. It does not differentiate between urban, suburban or periurban locations, but according to selected urban qualities distilled from numerous case studies. These provide an analysis matrix for the examination of urban configurations while also serving as an aid in the transformation and upgrading of the urban stock. Indeed, the question as to how to recognize and cultivate urban qualities and potentials both inside and outside the historic core cities – e.g. in relation to urban agglomerations – is a highly topical issue in Switzerland.

The key findings are as follows:

  • The concept of urbanism requires reformulation in the light of the contemporary city region as well as adaptation to the changed framework. Any present-day spatial development which is geared to historical concepts of the city is inconsistent with the prevailing socio-economic and political realities.
  • Urbanism is a graduated concept arising from the coexistence of specific urban characteristics or qualities. An updated selection of these urban qualities can be used as the basis for communication in planning and construction processes and for the development of specific urban design strategies and measures.
  • Urban qualities result from a combination of urban design and socio-spatial features. Their systematic enhancement depends on properly coordinated strategies and measures in a range of disciplines together with a consensus as to the political, economic and social priorities.
  • Assessments of the current situation and the definition of roles and criteria for future spatial development need to be discussed in relation to the associated normative basis. A transparent debate on conflicting values and goals should be seen as an integral part of the planning and design process.

Original title

Urbane Potentiale und Strategien in metropolitanen Territorien - Am Beispiel des Metropolitanraums Zürich

Project leader(s)

  • Professor Marc M. Angélil, Network City and Landscape (NSL), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
  • Professor Kees Christiaanse, Network City and Landscape (NSL), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
  • Professor Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Network City and Landscape (NSL), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
  • Professor Christian Schmid, Network City and Landscape (NSL), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
  • Professor Günther Vogt, Network City and Landscape (NSL), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich

Further information on this content


dipl. Arch. ETH Lukas Kueng Netzwerk Stadt und Landschaft (NSL)
Departement Architektur
ETH Zürich
8093 Zürich +41 44 633 68 37

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