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Design and Strategy in Urban Space

Focusing on Design and Strategies in Urban Space, the professorship concentrates on the observation of urban phenomena and the development of methods and tools at the interface between architecture and urban design. The aim is to develop sustainable strategies for the urban planning practice, which foster an inventive response to social tendencies and creatively integrate them in dynamic planning and steering processes. Current topics, such as the transformation of the cultural landscape, the activation of urban wastelands, or the intensification of urban hubs are illuminated in-depth. In addition to these examinations, detailed studies on diversification, specialization, and the topology of networks will deliver insights into the structure of urban systems. The findings, drawn from a synergy between teaching, research and design, will help to initiate and guide complex urban developments in an innovative manner.

With integrated projects running over several semesters, we try to bridge the creative and critical world of academia with urban planning practice. The case studies for design studios and seminars, prepared on-site with involved actors, are elaborated with students and substantiated through scientific projects. In this way, they become condensed to strategic research proposals or creative solutions directly linked to real planning processes. From the side of ETH, this close collaboration is conducted with students and faculty of the professorship in a practical, problem-oriented constellation, involving external partners from the commercial and/or political world on an equal basis.

The following research issues are emphasized:

Cultural landscape
The phrase ‘urban landscape’ is a popular contradiction of terms for the dwindling distinction between city and countryside. We prefer the term ‘cultural landscape’, which refers to a complex assemblage of systems that complement or overlap and at times function independently of each other. A dynamic field of concentration and differentiation emerges, which perpetually changes under the influence of numerous factors. We examine the impact of diverse forces on the sprawling suburban agglomeration, concentration and polycentrality, mobility and landscape development. Cultural Landscape

The (re-)activation of former harbors, stations, and industrial areas through temporary uses (‘urban catalysts’) and a mixture of official and informal activities has developed into an approved method for the creation or conservation of sustainable social milieus. Sometimes these areas are the only ones in the city, where the term ‘urbanity’ can be secured and stabilized. We examine the conditions and develop exemplary scenarios for waterfronts and industrial areas.

We call densified development areas at central transit junctions of large transport systems ‘hubs’. Today, these former examples of large-scale monofunctional ensembles are the precursors of a new trend towards a radical mixture of functions, which up to now only excludes the activity living. In times when mixed-use developments are desired but difficult to achieve because of the social segregation of society, the examination of this phenomenon is clearly urgent. Studio London Bishopsgate SS05, Diplomwahlfach Brandhubs.1 WS04/05, Diplomwahlfach Brandhubs.2 SS05, Brandhub Dissertation + TH-Projekt

In analog to Silicon Valley, the term ‘valley’ refers to the concentration or clustering of specific programs and activities and their representation in the cultural landscape. Examples are the Life Sciences Cluster Basel or the concentration of fashion related activities in the Veneto. We analyze the ancillary conditions and factors leading to the development of such clusters. Veneto Valleys

Complex networks are formed by the connection, relationship, and interaction between different urban elements – islands, ensembles, corridors, enclaves – in the visible city (morphology) as well as in the invisible city (physiology). The term urbanity is characterized by the possibility of generating new networks by combining and transforming old ones. We describe and interpret these processes and aim to develop additional formative instruments.

Control & Laisser-Faire
“In its role as an organizer of general elements, urban design should observe a certain degree of reservation to respect an architecture that may bloom into one thousand blossoms. In other words: urban design is about the creation of freedom.” (Christiaanse 1989) With this slogan in mind, we develop flexible systems and zoning concepts for different urban and non-urban realities. Next to the development of software this also includes their testing in case studies, such as the parceling of suburban and high-rise areas.

Revision r1.1 - 15 Apr 2005 - 13:57 - KerstinHoeger
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Professur Kees Christiaanse, Institut für Staedtebau, Netzwerk Stadt und Landschaft

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