Winter '17

Winter School: Cities for All

Transdisciplinary Work-Lab for Architects, Engineers, Economic and Social Scientists

Visiting Workshop

  • February 4 - 18
  • Cartagena / Santa Marta, Colombia
  • Urban-Think Tank, D-ARCH
    Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg & Prof. Hubert Klumpner
    Marie Grob

    Institute of Science, Technology and Policy
    Dr. Jennifer Duyne
  • Partners: Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Financiera de Desarrollo Territorial (FINDETER), Municipalities of Cartagena and Santa Marta


This winter school will combine theoretical and empirical field research, engaging with local practitioners and stakeholders. It will function as an interdisciplinary think-tank, exploring the requirements to make cities more inclusive for all. The focus will be on opportunities and challenges provided by the two emerging cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia.

This winter school will challenge you to work in an intensive, cross-cultural setting identifying new development potentials in complex, real-life contexts.

Mid-sized cities in Latin America are growing at unprecedented rates. Struggling between globalization, modernization, and local traditions, these emerging cities are characterized by great social and spatial disparity. The decisions made over the next decade will have lasting consequences on long-term demographics and economic growth. In this short time window we face the challenge to respond to these high demands on resources, such as land, infrastructure, and energy.

Are these boomtowns doomed to follow the pitfalls of rapid urban development? Can they be tackled by integrated and inclusive solutions, rather than generic and fragmented interventions which exclude the challenged local communities?

This program is part of an ambitious, three-year collaboration with the Inter American Development Bank’s Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) and the Swiss Ministry for Economic Cooperation (SECO). Building on the existing ESCI Action Plans, the winter school will lead to its own urban assessment and identify potential proposals for future project developments. The outcomes of the course will lead to a concrete project proposal, influence decision makers, and engage with real issues.

ETH will focus on the two emergent Colombian cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta, which are facing the specific challenges of coastal urban centers, such as mass tourism, social inequality and chronic flooding. We will examine, analyze, and compare the two case studies in order to produce meaningful urban strategies to influence urban policy. In teams, you will contribute with your expertise and unpack the realities of sustainable development within a tropical climate. How can knowledge from ETH be combined with Colombian research and translated into a Caribbean context? Through debate, community appraisals and collaboration, it is expected that you question the preconceptions of socio-spatial inclusion and sustainable urban development, to produce scenarios which integrate your different disciplines.

This immersive, three-week winter school will be structured in four interlocked modules:

In the first module you will investigate the city of Cartagena and gain a strong understanding of its social, environmental, mobility and built contexts. Through intensive fieldwork, you will employ analytical mapping and empirical methodologies to integrate and synthesize knowledge across different disciplines.

In the second module, you will develop a series of alternative solutions for an integrated and inclusive future of the city. You will build on the research from the first module, and explore the potential of your ideas with local stakeholders and professionals from your fields. You will document these scenarios using creative and varied representational methods.

In the third module, you will explore the neighboring city of Santa Marta, repeating the research and discussion steps of the first modules. From these case studies, you will develop a comparative analysis which should inform and correct your initial assessments.

In the final module you will pitch your recommendations to decision makers. During this event you will measure their preferences, debate the associated trade-offs, and provide a series of orientations for those planning the future of Cartagena and Santa Marta.

Back in Zurich, you will be asked to gather all your findings into a final report, which will be presented to SECO and delivered to the other ESCI partners.



We are looking for enthusiastic students currently enrolled in a PhDs or Masters program in ETH Zurich, Colombian Universities and other academic institutions around the world, particularly from developing countries. A group of 10 ETH students from the D-ARCH, ISTP and D-BAUG departments will be selected. Priority given to the ISTP PhD candidates of the Urban Research Incubator. D-ARCH students receive 4 ECTS.

Applicants should have a strong interest in sustainable urban development, urban poverty and socio-spatial exclusion, policy development and transdisciplinary collaborative research. They should be able to demonstrate their academic strengths, motivation, interest and expertise. Knowledge of Spanish is welcomed but not obligatory.

Applications can be submitted including curriculum vitae, portfolio where relevant and letter of motivation as portable document format (pdf) to Marie Grob at grob@arch.ethz.ch

Application deadline: November 21st

Notification for admission: November 30th


The winter school includes accomodation, group transportation, on-site activities and guides.

Each student will be responsible for obtaining his flight ticket to and back from Cartagena, visa and travel insurance; meals and any other personal expenses.

ISTP students receive a 400 CHF contribution for their flight ticket.


Dates in Zurich: 25th of January and 20th to 24th of February 2017.

Dates in Colombia: 4th to 18th of February 2017.

Program schedule