Basel Study Abroad Studio Option: The City and Energy, A typological study

 Contemporary discussion on energy and architecture is largely dictated by the condition of scarcity. We often hear that our cities and our buildings are responsible for the consumption of large amounts of energy. In the recent years much effort has been placed on both devising technical innovations that would allow energy saving and the spatial implications of the shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. In reality, all this seems to mask an attempt to limit architecture from advancing solutions that would radically question the city’s energetic dependence as a whole. The deployment of new technology does not represent a change in consumption habits but rather the attempt to make up with the endless growing consumption rates of our contemporary society.

Contrary to this approach, we would like to rethink the relationship between architecture and energy reclaiming the discipline’s instrumentality towards the project of the city and its architecture. Focusing on the relationship between urban form and energy will be the prerequisite for interventions that would perhaps more fundamentally challenge the current society energy addiction in a disciplinary meaningful way by reformulating spatial configurations, increasing urban densities and transforming existing relevant urban typologies.

Based on the results of the research conducted
during the Fall Semester 2012 at ETH Studio Basel and centered on the city of Basel (representing a European mid-size city) the students will be asked to advance concrete urban and architectural proposals for four relevant urban typologies of the city of Basel that have already been thoroughly researched in the past semester. These typologies consist of the dense historic compact city, the modernist interventions of the 60s, the contemporary urban sprawl and the industrial sites that used to characterize the periphery of our cities. These architectural proposals are meant to contribute and be part of the definition of a larger vision of the city – the metropolitan region of Basel in this case – that aims at devising the form of a city able to limit its energy consumption.