Spring '17

Action! On The Real City

Learning from Langstrasse

Elective Course

  • Start 23.02.2017
  • ETH Zurich, ONA / Langstrasse
  • Professor Alfredo Brillembourg & Professor Hubert Klumpner
    Marie Grob, Rebecca Looringh-van Beeck
  • ECTS Credits: 2
  • Thursdays: 13:00 - 17:00
  • Research Partner: Polytechnic University of Valencia, Prof. Eva Álvarez, Prof. Carlos Gómez


Known for its brothels, booze, and brawls, Zurich’s Langstrasse is our focus for this elective. The area’s recent rebrand – “Tribeka: sublime chic, oriental cuisine, precise craftsmanship, and the finest coffees” – is a recipe for gentrification. This transformation demands to be questioned, and with it, a new form of response by architects and urban planners. We call on you to take Action.

In this course, we develop new forms of urban literacy by learning to read and act on the city. Through lectures and group discussions, we will explore lessons in advocacy planning and architectural agency, developed through theory from Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s seminal book, “Learning from Las Vegas,” and other contemporary texts. Together with a parallel studio at the University of Valencia, we will explore new methods of mapping and understanding the city, “recasting quotidian landscapes as objects to be analyzed rather than ignored or denigrated” (Scott Brown). Finally, we will develop small-scale, temporary, physical interventions, using Langstrasse as our site, to discover active means of analyzing and shaping equitable civic space.

With this agenda, the course intends to support creative action in the city and instigate a new curiosity for the role of architects working in the urban environment.