Spring '17

Swiss Mittelland

Diploma Thesis A


  • ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Alfredo Brillembourg & Prof. Hubert Klumpner
    Silvia Balzan


The Swiss Mittelland is, like similar zones across Europe, the place where new urban realities are emerging. One of the Swiss regions most affected by extremely rapid growth over the past 50 years, it is in the process becoming a classic example of continuous urban sprawl. Though ostensibly a network of villages and major cities, in reality these various locations constitute an uninterrupted metropolis.

The task of the A-Topic Masters Thesis for FS 2017 is to envision an urban design project that allows for future development in a selected area in Egerkingen. The village is part of the Canton of Solothurn, and sits at the crossroads of the Swiss Plateau’s key transport arteries. The proposed construction of a privately funded cargo tunnel, the Cargo Sous Terrain, has been widely discussed in Switzerland. With the first 70 kilometers of this new underground transport system scheduled to be completed within the next two decades, the villages of Härkingen and Niederbipp have been identified as two of the eight hubs that will feed into the network. Egerkingen lies in between the two villages and stands to expand further as a base for logistics and transportation.

Students are invited to experiment with alternative urban-rural paradigms and address the development of urban qualities for what is still largely viewed as a traditional village rubbing up against a surrounding built environment designed predominantly for logistics, industrial, and retail uses. Projects produced for the A-Topic Masters Thesis will potentially serve as prospective case studies, which could be scaled, adjusted, and multiplied for other areas in the Swiss Mittelland.