Spring '16

Action! On the Real City

Play, Negotiate and Act!

Elective Course

  • February 25 - May 12, 13:00-17:00
  • ETH Zürich, ONA E30
  • Professor Alfredo Brillembourg & Professor Hubert Klumpner
    Marie Grob, teaching, Eleanor Hughes, student assistant
  • ECTS: 2


The elective course “Action! On the Real City” develops a board game that facilitates decision-making and design processes for complex, real-life urban transformations. The course aims to explore the quantitative aspects of a sustainable approach to urban development, through the lens of various disciplines such as architecture, engineering, and environmental sciences.

Building upon an existing role-playing game, students will refine several aspects to enrich its potential as an urban analysis tool. The main focus of this semester is to create a reality-based urban quality index used to evaluate the outcomes of the game. This index will be derived from the analysis of real world case studies, quantitative models and existing indices. Students will be challenged and encouraged to draw connections between the abstract world of the board and the real world.

Tasks consist of both individual and group work: understanding the game components (such as actors, board, game pieces etc.), identifying relevant parameters constituting the urban environment, creation of a urban quality index that incorporates principles of social design and extending this index as a means of comparing global cities.

Through developing this board game, students will learn how to define common visions and justify urban planning decisions in a trans-disciplinary framework. The course will teach both systematic and creative approaches, strengthening the role of future urban designers and planners as moderators of integrated city development.