The village is dead and has been for a long time, many people say. However one may see this, it is certainly true that the self-contained rural world that revolved around farm work and in which the church, the school, the cheese dairy, and the baker clearly identiﬁed the village centre has long since vanished. For many others – and above all for village dwellers themselves – the village remains alive, simply in another form and in diﬀerent economic circumstances. Even though its historic core threatens to drown in the landscape of periurban settlements – or suﬀers from depopulation: the village remains a political space for action and a core of identiﬁcation in the mobile consumer society. But to ensure this it must, at places, reinvent itself. This applies to agglomeration communities in the building boom and, equally, to mountain villages threatened by depopulation.
Some communities succeed in strengthening their identity thanks to persistent political and planning work: they give new life to historic buildings, create housing in the village and cultivate public space in its centre. To achieve this clear development goals and communal ownership of land are central prerequisites, far-sighted politicians is equally essential as active involvement of the local population. However, monitoring by the Ortsbildkommissionen (local townscape committees) and committed experts is also important as was done, for example, in the village cores of Vrin and Valendas by Gion Caminada, in Mels (St. Gallen) by Christian Wagner, or in Prangins, the town that won the Wakker Prize 2021, by Bruno Marchand. As loyal custodians who are well informed about the speciﬁc local situations, they ensured that the process could continue over long years, kept a careful eye on its goals, and suggested ways of encouraging public participation.
In recent years increasing numbers of young architects have rediscovered the village as a place for their activities, where their work attracts an immediate response and can have a greater impact than usual. Frequently, as the result of a private enquiry, through family contacts or a competition success a lasting commitment develops, which they see as both an opportunity and responsibility: in a discussion with Jenny Keller and Roland Züger the young architects talk about this. – Daniel Kurz, Roland Züger