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Modeling Future Urban Scenarios for Switzerland

Modeling Future Urban Scenarios for Switzerland
SwissAIM is an advanced software platform. It delivers dynamic high-resolution modeling of urban structures, landscapes, demographics, weather, energy, resources, and socio-economic conditions. Possible future urban scenarios will be synthesized for the whole of Switzerland from 2020 to 2050.

SwissAIM is a transdisciplinary collaboration between the Laboratory for Energy Conversion (LEC) and Urban-Think Tank Chair of Architecture and Urban Design at ETH Zurich, and the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA). The program is focused on designing a software platform to synthesize possible future urban scenarios for the whole of Switzerland. By utilizing big data, advanced software with visualization capabilities, and large-scale computing, the SwissAIM tool will provide users with the unique possibility of dynamic high-resolution modeling of urban structures, landscapes, demographics, weather, energy, resources, and socio-economic conditions. People are modeled as individual ‘agents’ utilizing a broad dataset, in order to digitally represent the built up needs within the Bauwerk Schweiz.

A unique characteristic of the tool is its holistic fusion of knowledge, big-data, and sophisticated analytics in order to support planners, urban designers, architects, landscape designers, and engineers with realizable and practical visions. Users can adapt elements such as the future movement of people, and construction of new buildings, roads, tunnels, dams, or power plants to assess the impacts on Switzerland’s future economy and environment. For the first time, datasets from very different sources, including the Bundesämtern, have been seamlessly integrated to enable a platform that readily communicates new insights. The software will be used to design and visualize new urban and infrastructure concepts with the goal of maintaining and improving Swiss quality of life from 2020 to 2050.

Olten-Aarau as Test Region

In the initial phase, two possible scenarios for the Olten-Aarau region were tested, with one modeling the effects of continued urban sprawl, and the other prioritizing urban densification, functional transformation, and improved public transport. In the next phase of SwissAIM, lessons learned from the Olten-Aarau area will be extended to all of Switzerland. Evaluations of urban plans, land use, taxation options, and transportation decisions will be explored with teams of local stakeholders, and new design concepts for sustainable and resilient development will be proposed. The current team at ETH Zurich will expand to become an even more diverse group drawn from across Switzerland, which will collaborate closely with SIA and a variety of federal government departments to develop a common future vision. Prof. Dr. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey of Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems (PLUS) at ETH Zurich, Prof. Kay W. Axhausen of the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT) at ETH Zurich, Prof. Dr. Christian Schmid of the Lectureship Sociology at ETH Zurich, and Prof. Dr. Matthias Finger of the Chair Management of Network Industries (MIR) at EPFL will collaborate in the implementation phase.

Reza S. Abhari, Hubert Klumpner mit Anna Gawlikowska. Editiert und gekürzt von Alexis Kalagas. Orginal erschienen in der Ausgabe von TEC 21 15/2016, 16/2016 und 17/2016.