Future City Model

What are the challenges of the future livable city?



In the last years, the smart technologies and lifestyle have gained new challenges in working, living and dwelling. On the other hand, we face the rapid trend of growing cities with increasing dense of population and diversity of city dwellers with their individual needs. The city is the place where we interact, communicate, move, share and participate.



In the first step, the aim of the research project is therefore to extract criteria of liveability taken from citizens directly that can be integrated into a discussion and urban design processes in all stages. This builds the basic know-how and guideline for city dwellers and authorities to develop the city in a sustainable way.

In the second step, a visual and participatory planning session follows. By means of analogue and digital 2D sketching, as a communication attractor and a thinking tool, city dwellers are invited to learn about the needs of future and sustainable city planning. They can directly contribute to the problematic issues within urban area and collect their own common knowledge about the city.

In a haptic 3D model, and at the same time with digital visual library in any electronic device, the city dwellers can bring in their visions.

The third step, builds a haptic physical as well as augmented digital model based on previous observations and information / data collection. The outcome of the research shall be an augmented model – in the Citizen Urban Laboratory– integrating the city dwellers visions, needs, necessities, knowledge and findings.


Such a platform of Citizens Urban Lab as an on-line interactive and augmented space, will provide a variety of design solutions for a better liveable and lovable urban space. These will serve the city planners and decision-makers as a rich idea repository. Furthermore, the on-line smart application “SkiTy”  will collect additional information about the environment based on emotional measures and a cognitive mapping (level of area’s attraction, flows intensity, environmental density, environmental aesthetics, ways of navigation) in order to inform citizens and experts and allow them to develop their own ideas, intentions and proposals that can be used and communicated in planning and decision-making processes. Ideas to build upon are manifold.

The research will yield new knowledge about qualitative and quantitative criteria of liveability provided directly by the citizens within particular urban area or areas of a city. The data will be embedded into an online database to inform digital urban visual library that citizens and experts will use as a design tool within a participatory and co-creative urban design process.

The app can be distributed and published later on to all people around the world in order to have an idea how to improve their own city environments that can be communicated with the experts and authorities. (Second level research and implementation.)

The project will provide not only a participatory design process with citizens but reveal scientific measures and citizens’ knowledge as an active part of the whole communication and design process.

As such, the novelty of the project will lie in a combination of urban design, citizen science and direct communication between scientists, laypersons and authorities using appropriate digital technologies. Such a research intention will lead the way to the Citizen Design Science which will enhance the disciplines of urban planning and design and contribute to the discussion about the important need of sustainability in the liveable cities.


Project members:

Peter Buš Mgr.Art., Ph.D. Postdoctoral researcher iA ETH Zürich bus@arch.ethz.ch  

Prof. Tanja Hess Dipl. Gestaltung und Kunst HGKZ Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft HTW Chur tanja.hess@htwchur.ch


Graphic artist:

Tanja Hess