In 1955 Max Frisch, Lucius Burckhardt und Markus Kutter published Achtung: Die Schweiz, a warning about the increasing sprawl throughout the Swiss landscape and a plea for a new and more controlled level of urbanity in the form of high-density settlements. Fifty-eight years later, the level of alarm against the increasing levels of urban sprawl has not diminished and yet single-family houses and low-density settlements still unabatedly continue to cover the Swiss landscape. Openly alluding to the book of 1955, the project Achtung: die Landschaft (Warning: the landscape) will attempt at offering a different yet radical alternative to the problems of land, landscape and resources consumption that contemporary forms of urbanization imply. Instead of new dense settlements built outside of the existing cities as advanced in the project of 1955, we propose to shift attention towards landschaft -land, landscape and the entire un-built territory as the deliberate choice to be operative within the constraints of a modern democracy and the need to safeguard freedom of the individual for choosing his/her own way of living.
The design studio, the third of a series of four consecutive studios that will tackle different urban conditions of Switzerland (i.e. 1. Basel, 2. Mittelland; 3. Ticino or Mittelland II, 4. Valais), is part of a larger project that aims at critically contributing to the debate on the future of the country. Already central to the current political and public debate (i.e. the Zweitwohnungsinitiative and the recent Raumplanungsgesetz), the understanding of the Swiss landscape will become the lens through which to formulate an alternative vision for the future of the city. The analysis, conceptualization and representation of the un-built territories of the territory at stake (possibly Ticino or the Swiss Mittelland) will be the pre-requisite for interventions that lie at the intersection between architecture, urban design and landscape architecture and that will cross disparate architectural scales of interventions. Students will be asked to advance radical yet specific proposals, ones that put at the center the articulation of the limit between sprawling agglomeration and un-built territory. Conceptually, the theme of the project will be the space of the limit, the physical space of delimitation and separation between different conditions and the very place able to inform the experience of architecture. Our hypothesis is that it is the space of the limit that will be able to reintroduce an idea of place within an otherwise undifferentiated and generic urban condition. The project of the limit will unfold into the definition and transformation of existing settlements through new edges and borders by i.e. establishing unexpected territorial hierarchies, separating contiguous conditions, tracing new geographies, offering new scopes, and uncovering unprecedented routes.
The project has already tackled together with ETH architecture students in the past semester the city of Basel (Winter Semester 2013), the Swiss Mittelland (Summer semester 2014) and is now considering the region of Ticino or other parts of the Swiss Mittelland region for the upcoming Winter semester 2014.
Studio organization and schedule
The studio is open to 12 students from the GSD and 12 students from the ETH. These students will form 12 teams, each composed of one ETH student and one GSD student.
The format of the studio is that of the masterclass, with students becoming integral part of ETH Studio Basel research team and developing their proposals in close cooperation with Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Studio Basel assistants.