Urban environment as shown in the virtual reality experiment while measuring emotional responses using physiological measurements (electrodermal activity). © PLUS, ETH Zürich

Cities are characterised by pluralism of people and uses. This fact is becoming increasingly relevant in the practice of urban planning. The handling of differences of life conditions and spatial and temporal use is frequently based on an understanding that looks at only a single feature such as income, the analysis of some spaces, or of a particular time of the day. This study critically examines this restrictive understanding of differences, an understanding that imposes exclusive features on individuals, places or of a particular time of the day, thereby simplifying complex realities. First, we include in the concept of difference numerous existing personal, spatial and temporal features such as social position, income, age, gender, language, disability, and religion, as also the differentiated use of spaces. The aim is to understand these characteristics in their intersectional combination and dissolve representations of supposedly homogeneous uses of the city. Second, we will challenge the current understanding of urban planning by establishing a new, innovative urban planning approach – difference-oriented urban planning. This approach conceptualises difference to be a part of planning theory and practice

This is a joint project between two chairs:
Heidi Baumann | Planning of Landscapes and Urban Systems (PLUS), Prof. Dr. Adrienne Grêt-Regamey Benjamin Gramsch | Transport Planning and Systems (IVT), Prof. Dr. Kay Axhausen
Difference in Urban Planning. Interdisciplinarity as an Approach to Understanding the Complexity of Contemporary Urban Societies. In: NSL Newsletter No 56, December 2022