Rarely has a slogan from the ﬁeld of spatial planning policy acquired an impact as quickly as, in recent times, the term “Inward Settlement Development”. In cities construction work is proceeding like never before, and in the surrounding areas the construction machinery is steaming ahead even more hectically. Of course, this has less to do with the political buzzword than with the situation on the ﬁnancial markets, which are pumping unimaginable amounts into the area of real estate. The question arises whether the many thousand newly built apartments make a real a contribution to densifying settlement areas, that is: whether density in terms of people keeps pace with the building density, and whether this produces architecture and, ultimately, a city. It seems reasonable to doubt this. Besides: where in the current boom are social density and mix, atmospheric density and spatial excitment produced? Our building laws result in the opposite: they privilege the freestanding suburban building, as they incorporate long-since obsolescent ideologies from the garden city era.
And therefore, in this issue we ask: what does successful density look like? Does it take the form of broad boulevards and green parks around tall buildings? Of a densely lined street space in the sense of the European city? Or of a small scale mesh in the manner of our historically developed old towns and village cores? With densities of over 200 per cent how can we create spaces that inspire and move us, that bring people into contact with each other, stimulate public space, mesh with the surrounding districts – and, lastly, which also have cooling green spaces that beneﬁt our urban climate. There are no patent recipes in this regard, only diﬀerent successful approaches.
With our latest issue we link to a long series of own publications on the theme of dense urban design, for instance wbw 4–2019 (In the Urban Block), 10 – 2018 (Building the Village), 9 – 2018 (Replacement Housing) or 4 – 2017 (Urban Spaces). We believe: true urban density is still frowned upon in Switzerland. But for a pulsating city life it is not the building density that is decisive but the density of residents. The current boom in the construction of new dwellings – generally as a monoculture without much of a social mix – does not allow a city to develop. — Daniel Kurz, Roland Züger