DiffUrb stands for Difference-Oriented Urban Planning. The aim of this research project is to study the concepts and practices adopted by cities to deal with pluralism and to develop new planning conceptions oriented to differences.

Cities are characterised by pluralism. This fact is becoming increasingly relevant in the practice of urban governance and planning. The handling of differences is usually based on an understanding that favours only one individual feature (such as income) and addresses only specific groups. The proposed study critically examines this restrictive understanding of differences; an understanding that imposes exclusive features on individuals or groups and thereby simplifies complex identities. First, we will include in the concept of differences numerous existing features such as age, gender, language, disability or religion, aiming to understand these characteristics in their intersectional combination and dissolve representations of supposedly homogeneous groups. Second, we want to challenge the idea of pluralism by establishing a new, innovative urban planning approach, called difference-oriented urban planning. This approach conceptualises differences in planning theory and practice.

Team leaders: Vincent Kaufmann (EPFL-Lasur), Adrienne Grêt-Regamey (ETHZ), Sandro Cattacin (UniGe-IRS), Fiorenza Gamba (UniGe-IRS). Members: Jenny Maggi (UniGe-IRS), Oliver Waeber (UniGe-IRS), Benjamin Gramsch (ETHZ), Heidi Baumann (ETHZ), Sanja Platisa (EPFL), Yves Pedrazzini (EPFL), Florian Masse (EPFL), Guillaume Drevon (EPFL).

Project partners: The associate project partners act as a guarantee that the research will be linked to methodological, planning and practical knowledge and teaching:

  • Kay Axhausen is a civil engineer and professor in transport systems and planning at the ETHZ. He was centrally involved in the development of this research project. His research focuses on the measurement and modelling of traffic behaviour, traffic diaries, stated-response approaches, decision models and microsimulation.
  • Frédéric Kaplan holds the Digital Humanities Chair at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and directs the EPFL Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLAB). He conducts research projects combining archive digitisation, information modelling and museographic design.
  • David Kaufmann is political scientist and Assistant Professor of Spatial Development and Urban Policy at ETHZ. His research interests are particularly useful for our project: he examines the intersections of public policy, urban politics, spatial planning and migration studies.
  • Milica Topanovic is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Territorial Planning at the ETHZ, Department of Architecture. Since 2000, she worked on projects in different spatial scales and visual media. She will be of particular importance in the project for the development of pedagogical instruments.
  • Paola Viganò: She is an architect and urbanist. Viganò founded Studio with Bernardo Secchi. Studio is currently working on various projects at different scales in Europe. In 2008 Studio was one of the ten teams selected for the Grand Paris research project and in 2012 for the New Moscow project.
  • Fondation Braillard: The Fondation Braillard is renowned in Switzerland as an intellectual think tank in the field of architecture that is highly influential in urban and architectonical orientations. The foundation’s director, Panos Mantziaras, former Head of the Bureau for Architectural, Urban and Landscape Research at the French Ministry of Culture (2011–2015), will be personally involved in the project.
  • HES-CAS in urban projects and MAS in urban studies: The link to teaching will be guaranteed through the participation of two of the three PIs (Cattacin and Kaufmann) in the newly created MAS in urban studies (at the University of Geneva and the EPFL) and the CAS in Urban Projects and empowerment (HES). Sandro Cattacin, member of the committee of the HES- CAS, and Vincent Kaufmann, member of the committee of the MAS, will guarantee that the research results enter into teaching practices in the field of planning.