ETH Zurich – Institute for Urban Design
HIL H44.1 – Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5 – 8093 Zurich





Special Urban Design Studio



Within the framework of the “Future Cities Laboratory” collaboration between the ETH and the National University Singapore, we offer a Special Urban Design Studio in the FS12 entitled “Vertical Cities Asia.” The studio will be headed in collaboration with Professor Brillembourg-Klumpner. 

The studio is based on the student competition “Vertical Cities Asia” for Seoul, Southkorea, which was hosted by the National University Singapore and the World Future Foundation. 


Preamble Competition


"Everyone Ages"

Every year a one square kilometre territory will be the subject of the competition. This area, to house 100,000 people living and working, sets the stage for tremendous research and investigation into urban density, verticality, domesticity, work, food, infrastructure, nature, ecology, structure, and program - their holistic integration and the quest for visionary paradigm will be the challenges of this urban and architectural invention.

This new environment will have a full slate of live-work-play provisions, with the residential component making up to 50% of the total floor space.

In the second of this series of competitions, the theme of "Rapidly ageing societies in Asia" will be explored.

Population aging is unique in Asia given the speed at which it is occurring and the immense social and economic changes that the region is experiencing at the same time.

All across Asia, the number of people age 65 and above is expected to grow dramatically over the next 50 years. For the region as a whole, the population in this age group will increase by 314 percent - from 207 million in 2000 to 857 million in 2050. Changes that occurred over 50 years in the West are being compressed into 20 to 30 years in Asia.

The competition seeks innovative design solutions for a balanced environment for urban life addressing and anticipating the challenges of a rapidly ageing society. It encourages new positive approaches to ageing society that identify opportunities for maintaining capacities and well-being over the life course. Concepts such as "active aging" and "aging in place" with new approach to accessibility, social care and support for elderly are expected to affect design solutions and programs which exceed the standard community club repertoire and incorporate a range of opportunities to activate the elderly and bring them back to workforce, and to develop appropriate environments, especially the built environment, for both older and younger generations, which is crucial to successful ageing within the community.

Key issues of concern are: how to create an influential imagery and new concepts of living reflecting the de-stigmatized stand on elderly and ageing; how to encourage "active aging" and build up the competency and ability of the elderly to stay independent by providing holistic approach to supportive environments; how to allow "ageing-in-place" through inclusive and integrative design.



The site is located in Yongshan, part of Seoul Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea.


Competition Objective

The objective of the competition is to seek a holistic solution or a new urban paradigm for a rapidly growing Asian city which also faces the issues of sustainability and quality of life that also addresses the increasing aging population in Asian cities.


Design Considerations

The design is about a high intensity and density Asian city that addresses its growing aging population. The design should consider the following issues holistically and integratedly.

Sustainability- The design should examine a closed loop paradigm, ecological and resilience attributes in their solution.

Quality of Life- The consideration for inclusiveness and sense of community.

Technical Innovation- The appropriate and innovative use of technology and technique.

Relationship to Context- Sensitive consideration of the place, climate and cultural context.

Feasibility- The rigour of the research and criticality of design in addressing the issues.

The international Design Jury will judge the submissions along the abovementioned.


Participating Universities

Asia: The Chinese University of Hong Kong // Tongji University // Tsinghua University // University of Tokyo // National University of Singapore (host)

Europe: Delft University of Technology // ETH Zurich

North America: University of California at Berkeley // University of Michigan // University of Pennsylvania


Get more infos:


Two developed designs of high quality will have the opportunity to participate in the final jury of all Universities in Singapore, where prizes will also be awarded to the top three designs.


If you are interested please write a short statement and send samples of work by January 18, 2012! (kretschmann @ Twelve students will be selected from all of the received applications.


Organizational Information

The studio is coordinated by Professor Christiaanse and accompanied by Professor Brillembourg/Professor Klumpner and interdisciplinary design workshops with other professionals.


The maximal number of participants of the Special Design Studio is 12. The work is done in teams of two.


We are planning to travel to Seoul for a workshop during seminarweek. The workshop in Seoul will cost approximately CHF 1200 (+/-10%) per person.

Your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months. 

The Design Studio is worth 13+3 (integrated discipline urban design) credits; the workshop is worth 2 credit points (as a seminar week). 

- Introduction: Wed., 2012.02.22, HIL H47.1, 13.00

- Credit points: 16 (incl. integrated discipline) + 2 (seminar week)



Prof. K. Christiaanse, N. Kretschmann