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What have we actually built there?

Prof. Michael Wagner was invited to a panel discussion at Architekturforum Zürich on Wednesday, 25 October 2023.

Regula Iseli (architect, co-director of the Urban Landscape Institute at the ZHAW), Michael Wagner (architect, professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Liechtenstein), Katharina Barandun (settlement coach) and Philipp Fischer (architect, Enzmann Fischer Partner) discussed the topic "What did we actually build there? The discussion was moderated by Caspar Schärer and Lena Wolfart (both board members of Architekturforum Zürich). It was an evening of critical review and a look to the future.

20 years of building boom

Zurich and its agglomeration have experienced an uninterrupted building boom over the last twenty years. Virtually all brownfield sites and former factory areas have been gradually built over and developed into residential and workplace areas. Currently, construction activity is cooling down somewhat due to the turnaround in interest rates and other factors. A good opportunity to pause for a moment and reflect on what was actually built there. Moreover, the era of large, cohesive site developments is slowly coming to an end. What was the spirit that shaped this type of development? Which visions and promises came true? Where are the differences to today's everyday life on site? And what has changed since then in terms of planning paradigms and ideas of ‹good urban design›?

Avoiding further sealing of the soil

In the discussion, Prof. Michael Wagner emphasised the importance of fine-grained urban designs that enable the integration of existing buildings. In this context, he emphasised the need to avoid further sealing of the soil through underground buildings in the future and called for generous timetables for the gradual and socially sustainable implementation of urban development projects. Furthermore, he strongly advocated for an expanded acceptance of diversity and heterogeneity in our current phase of extensive transformation of the built environment, not least to adequately reflect social changes.