LASUR received a « Sinergia » funding from the SNSF

Hamburg, one of the town studied in the comparative analysis. © Istock

Hamburg, one of the town studied in the comparative analysis. © Istock

The contemporary city is marked by increasingly marked differences in living conditions and spatio-temporal lifestyles. An interdisciplinary research conducted by EPFL aims to describe these differences and the tensions they generate, to analyze the concepts and practices adopted by cities to deal with pluralism, and to develop new approaches to planning that are oriented towards the inclusiveness. The project has received a "Sinergia" funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation. A four-year project with research studies from the University of Geneva, ETHZ and EPFL.

Integrating and recognizing the differences between the inhabitants of a city, while promoting living together, is a challenge well anchored in the great cities of the world. This reality will increase with globalization, which favors and encourages exchanges between people, and as cities develop and connect. In order to face this challenge, decision-makers must adapt the urban space and implement policies that promote inclusion within a plural society.

At the forefront in Switzerland in the analysis of the urban fact, EPFL’s Urban Sociology Laboratory (Lasur) is launching in spring 2020 a four-year interdisciplinary research project that aims to provide very concrete recommendations on the right ways to conduct urban policies that respect differences while allowing for living together. This project, which will involve sociologists, political scientists, urbanists, architects and civil engineers at EPFL, the University of Geneva and ETHZ, has just received a CHF 2.2 million "Sinergia" funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

"Cities have never been so diversified, and this is particularly the case in Switzerland. If you take a unit of territory, say 2 km2 of city, you find an incredible number of nationalities, religions, lifestyles, claims of all kinds. The contemporary city is increasingly made up of these differences. One issue of urban policies that is becoming central and unavoidable is that these differences are often claimed and supported by religious or ethnic groups, or by social movements. These claims are legitimate but at the same time it is necessary to succeed in living together, that is to say to conduct a policy that allows them to be recognized while allowing a certain cohesion. This is the challenge of pluralist and inclusive urban planning," explains Vincent Kaufmann, Lasur director and coordinator of the study.

The researchers will conduct a comparative survey in Geneva, Brussels, Hamburg and Turin, which have different ways of approaching these issues. They intend to analyze and describe the systems and laws in place in these major European cities, the infrastructural support on which they rely, and the feelings of the inhabitants.


Difference-oriented urban planning: a comparative analysis

Project applicants: Vincent Kaufmann (EPFL), Sandro Cattacin (UNIGE), Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (ETHZ)

Partners: Panos Mantziaras (Fondation Braillard Architectes, Geneva), Frédéric Kaplan (EPFL), Paola Viganò (EPFL), David Kaufmann (ETHZ), Kay Axhausen (ETHZ).