Design Spring Semester 2019

Marseille – Maritime and Alpine Landscape

Entwurf Frühlingssemester 2019: Calanques de Marseille, Blickrichtung Ost gegen Festland, 1934, Walter Mittelholzer,
Originaltitel des Fluges Mailand - Como, aber alle Bilder von Marseille, evtl. auf der Rückreise vom Abessinienflug

The design semesters of the Vogt chair circle around the Alpine arc following the thesis that it can be read as an urban Common Ground. Every semester, the task of verifying this thesis arises by focusing on a metropolitan area and asking about its specific relation to the alpine region.

After Milano, Lyon, Ljubljana and Munich, we will spend the coming spring semester studying the urban territory of Marseille. The metropolitan region is located east of the Rhone Delta in a hollow surrounded by rugged mountain ranges and the Mediterranean coast. The clash of these ambivalent cultural landscapes places France’s second-largest city in a national special position, not least as an important centre for immigration and trade.

The task of the semester is to explore the meaning and use of this maritime and alpine landscape in the area of tension between extensification and intensification with the aim of rethinking a productive relationship with the metropolitan region of Marseille.

We do not understand the design as a final product, but as a process. In a first step we examine the large-scale relations of Marseille. On a two-day field trip we supplement the analytical view with a personal view of the place. From this the students develop an individual program as a basis for their design. The proposed interventions may vary between urban and landscape scenarios as well as concrete architectural proposals.


Chair of Günther Vogt
Assistants: David Jung, Ursin Huonder
052-1144-19L – Design (14 KP)
051-1236-19L – Integrated Discipline Landscape Architecture (3 KP)
week 1-3 analysis (in groups), design project (individual work)
Introduction at 10:15 am, Case Studio Vogt (Stampfenbachstr. 59, 8006 Zürich)
The journey to Marseille will take place from 08.03.19 to 10.03.18 (departure Friday evening)
The contribution towards expenses will be 200 CHF.


The Alps as Common Ground

The expansion of the Alps’ developmental structure leads to their increased integration into the urban networks of the surrounding metropolises. This enables both the exploitation of the Alps as a metropolitan park landscape and as an attractive settlement area, which leads to an increased formation of spatial contrasts already evident today: the intensified use of the easy to reach Alpine areas increasingly contradicts the more extensive use up to the abandonment of the remaining Alpine areas. If this trend continues, it will lead in extreme cases to the loss of the Alps as an autonomous cultural, living and economic area; furthermore, the Alpine peripheral regions will become merely additional areas of the extra-Alpine metropolises.

When considering the Alps as common ground of the surrounding metropolitan areas, an alternative interpretation results and a new potential opens up regarding the Alps’ future development. Assuming that settlements and an accompanying urban concentration will increase along the edge of the Alps, they would no longer only be partially assigned metropolitan park landscapes, but central to the region. Regarding the Alps as common ground and a resource claimed by various users, their future could lie in a collectively renegotiated, sustainable user relationship. This relationship combines and overlaps traditional, agricultural (endogenous) usages with extra-Alpine, urban (exogenous as well as ubiquitous) ones, thus ultimately allowing a responsible use of resources of the Alpine landscape. (Werner Bätzing, «Die Alpen. Geschichte und Zukunft einer europäischen Kulturlandschaft», Munich: Publisher C.H. Beck, 2005, P. 335.) This could result in a common central landscape of the surrounding metropolitan areas – not based on traditional images and ideas, but creating new images and meanings – and above all developing strategies on how to deal with areas with little potential.

The alpine range 2015: urbanisation (white), protected areas (red), common ground (yellow).
The alpine range 2100: urbanisation (white), protected areas (red), common ground (yellow).