Doctoral Project
Regressive Architecture - Right-wing Populism and Architecture in Switzerland 1960-2020

Doctoral Project
Susanne Hefti
Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung
since 2019

This project is intended to contribute to the study of the ways in which architecture and politics are intertwined, using right-wing populist narrations and networks as a focal point to assess how deeply their politics affect Switzerland’s political, and thus built environment. It revolves around three main narratives that deal with architecture and urban planning, which are often instrumentalized by the political right - the heartland, right-wing ecologies and exclusive spaces. Following this, three hypothesis are developed: (1) that the positions that right-wing actors have taken in architectural and spatial discourse have significantly influenced the understanding of space in Switzerland; (2) that the influence and network of the populist right-wing actors are reaching deep into the Swiss federalist system and have finally affected the spatial order in very concrete terms, promoting (3) highly constructed, dichotomous, seclusive and exclusive spaces that are characterized by inscriptions of conflicting interests regarding Switzerland’s self-image, heritage conservation and individual financial interests. Furthermore, this space itself is attested a certain performativity. The work aims to examine these interrelations and their determinants in two ways: by engaging with a historical source part and at the same time pursuing a spatial diagnosis in the site studies by the means of documentary photography.