Urban potential and strategies in metropolitan territories using the metropolitan region of Zurich as an example

National Research Programme
Module 1 – Urban Spaces – Chair of Günther Vogt

1. Questions
The intention, formulated in the project phase, was to research the photographic presentability of urban qualities at various levels of information acquisition and how decisions are reached. This knowledge was reworked and expanded based on the experience gained from internal work by the Chair on free public spaces (research projects, design courses and elective subjects). The photography information was expanded around the two instruments: Interviews and Mental Map questionnaire. From these two instruments, information emerged from various media that mutually complement each other and enabled a comprehensive and condensed overall view of the respective situation. Other central areas of focus are the user’s perspective and the concrete and clearly delimited sites in the metropolitan area of Zurich. The change in perspective made it possible to formulate precise questions, from which the following two research areas were defined.


What methods allow free space to be researched at the user level? The goal of the research is to develop a specific instrument set for the examination of free spaces. This should be considered in an appropriate manner from the perspective of the users with their interwoven social relationships as well their physical and sensory skills.


What are the specific characteristics of the respective (free space) situations from the viewpoint of the users? Which everyday practices come up and how is the space used and acquired? How will the space be mentally conceived, what images underlie the respective ideas? How do the mental image and the physically existing space relate to each other?

2. Methods
The research focuses on the three tests each performed at two sites. The formulated approach is to be understood as thematic ‘depth-drilling’. The respective situations can thus be spread out broadly and their specific characteristics can be described. 
After an intensive observation phase, a qualitative questionnaire follows. An interview questionnaire integrates the two additional instruments, Mental Map and Instant Photography (the test persons should document the site from their perspective with a disposable camera). Both methods are introduced during the interview; a report gives information about their origins. Using this method mix, the following questions are worked out:

Interview questionnaire: How will the space be used and acquired in everyday life?
Mental Map: How do the users move and orient themselves at the site?
Instant Photography: What are the relevant characteristics for the site from the viewpoint of the users and how do the mental images stand in relationship to the physical spaces at hand?

The development of these specific instruments is understood as a process that, based on the knowledge from different questionnaire situations, should be consistently challenged and further developed.

3. Further courses of action
In Fall semester 2011, further actions focus on Test 1 (Limmatplatz – Wiedikon) in the locations Josefswiese and Limmatplatz. In Spring semester 2012, research will be continued in the area Test 3 (Richterswil – Freienbach). Here, the locations to be worked on still need to be determined. 
Parallel to this, work on the methods of the survey and the presentation of the research results will be continued and expanded.




NFP 65
Public space in the Alps
Diskurs der Werkzeuge
Lexikon der Landschaftsarchitektur
The landscape of abandonment
Taking to the streets