The current practice of assigning building zones has proven to be unsustainable. In addition to urban sprawl in the landscape, building zone reserves are also oversized and in unsuitable locations or, in short, the discrepancy between supply and demand is being criticised. Land is a scarce resource and there are several different and partially conflicting claims on how to use it. Spatial planners need new tools in order to implement political assignments and tasks on a cantonal and national level.

PALM is a new tool for a cross-community potential analysis of the land resources for a sustainable spatial planning. The analysis model depicts the optimal distribution and dimensioning of the existing building zone reserves, taking into account the ecological, economical and social service uses of the land resources. Thanks to the PALM model, possible settlement developments can be analysed for these new conditions and optimised in an iterative process, because PALM enables the integration and balance of interests of the various actors and stakeholders.

The PALM model enables a transparent evaluation of the building zones for their suitability for redevelopment according to clearly defined criteria. The criteria used are the location factors, such as proximity to the centre, the scenery, or the construction costs due to the terrain. In addition, the benefits of nature (called ecosystem services) are taken into account, for example, groundwater regeneration, food production or local recreation areas. Areas that provide a particularly high level of ecosystem services are unsuitable for redevelopment. Thus the quality of the landscape, our habitat, and the benefits of a healthy ecosystem can be secured for future generations.


Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft – Ländliche Entwicklung sowie die Kantone Zürich, Bern, Solothurn, Graubünden und Waadt


Prof. Dr. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey
Jürg Altwegg
Sigrun Rohde

Implementation of the platform

Michel Ott
Michaela Teich
Maarten van Strien
Ralph Sonderegger

Project timeframe

Oktober 2009 bis Dezember 2013


Completed project