Research Project
Zürich in Section

Research Project
Prof. Dr. Laurent Stalder
Since 2019

The plan of Zürich is well known. It is not only that it is regularly documented by the public authorities in city maps or cadastral plans, the plan served in the past repeatedly as a basis for architects and historians to examine the development of Zürich. But how does the city look in section? And what conclusions can we draw from it?

Based on a survey on site, a section from the Zürichberg to the Uetliberg well be developed that integrates all the houses, but also the infrastructures, the vegetation and the earthworks, as well the imprints of everyday life. The drawing in 1:100 allows not only to analyze urban and architectural developments but also to link these to broader cultural developments. The synthetic view allows us to trace the slow transition of Zürich from a city with clear borders to a territorial network, and to comprehend the profound transformation of the environment by human hand in all its thematic breadth and historical depth.

The section represents the focus of a new introductory course in History and Theory of Architecture. Against the background of the question of what relevance the traditional understanding of architecture as an autonomous discipline has for contemporary architectural practice, for the first time experts from disciplines such as engineering, geology, landscape architecture and sociology will be actively involved in the teaching. Thus the course allows the students to become acquainted with interdisciplinary and multi-scalar thinking in their first year of studies and to develop a broad understanding of design, reflecting the historical depth and thematic spectrum that characterizes our modern environment

The project is supported by ETH Zürich's Innovedum fund for innovative teaching formats (2021-2023). First results were displayed in the exhibition «Durch Wände und Schichten. Querschnitte in Kunst und Wissenschaft» (Through Walls and Layers. Cross sections in Art and Science) at the Graphische Sammlung of ETH Zürich (2 May – 30 June 2019).


Tobias Erb