Open-Closed: An urban research study on the Canary Islands

Students: Christian Dehli, Stephan Jin Faust, Björn Fiedler, Sabrina Gehrig, Agnes Heller, Rachel Herbst, Sebastian Hurni, Gregor Kamplade, Bernhard Koenig, Chie Konno, Sandro Laffranchi, Gérard Lerner, Irene Schibli, Evelyn Steiner, Julia Sulzer, Rebecca Taraborrelli, Michael Umbricht, Claudia Waldvogel, Leopold Weinberg, Michèle Ziegler

Professors: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron
Assistants: John Palmesino, Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, Simon Hartmann, Christian Müller Inderbitzin, Emanuel Christ
Local experts: Dulce Xerach Perez, Arsenio Perez Amaral, Virgilio Gutiérrez Herreros, José A. Sosa Díaz-Saavedra, Víctor Martín Martín, Elena García, Iván Ballesteros, Conradin A. Burga

Text and concept: Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron
Image selection: Ann-Sofi Rönnskog Graphic
Concept and design: Ludovic Balland with Simon Palmieri / Nina Hug, Basel
Translation: Catherine Schelbert (EN G), Adela García-Herrera, Key Portilla-Kawamura (SP )
Printed in Switzerland, Gremper AG, Basel, August 2007

Published by ETH Studio Basel: Contemporary City Institute, Basel 2007

We were plagued by prejudice and doubt when we first thought about the Canary Islands. Would there be anything interesting to see apart from the usual ugly outgrowths of mass tourism? Would we come across anything that would illuminate the complex issue of urbanization in the 21st century? Specifically, we did not want to highlight the issue of tourism as such; rather, we wanted to investigate its concrete, architectural consequences with respect to the rapid advance of urbanization on all seven Canary Islands. Tourism is the driving economic force behind the process of urbanization. Not only does it modify the landscape and displace the preceding transformation brought about by the “age of agriculture”, it also creates a new form of spatial and social differentiation.