Stadtfabrik is a research project and publication of EM2N (Daniel Niggli and Mathias Müller) edited in collaboration with Medine Altiok and Caspar Schaerer. EM2N ︎
Editors and Concept Mathias Müller, Daniel Niggli, Medine Altiok, Caspar Schaerer Authors Mathias Müller, Daniel Niggli, Max Küng, Marcel Meili, Peter Swinnen
Publisher Park Books
Graphic Design Bonbon
Illustrations GRRRR, EM2N
Photographers Roland Bernath, Filip Dujardin, Simon Menges, Joël Tettamanti
Publication Status ongoing
What is the future of the European city? After the extensive flight from the city during the years of the economic miracle, in more recent decades our cities have experienced a renaissance as places in which to live. Once again people like to live in the centre. Paradoxically increasing numbers of vital functions are being displaced from the organism city to the periphery. Business, production and logistics make intensive use of area, harbour potential for conflicts and bring less added value with them. The result is an anodyne, lifeless simulation of the city that lacks precisely the depth and complexity that we so appreciate. And, as a result of the long routes travelled by city dwellers, the streams of commuters swell to such dimensions that the city threatens to suffocate in its own mobility.
The alternative is high density combined with a consistent mix of functions in the city centre. But which examples of high-density districts can we turn to as models? After all, nobody wants to import Hong Kong or São Paulo to Switzerland. In our search, we almost inevitably come to converted industrial areas. At high-density levels, they frequently mix functions, offer room for production, living, business, shopping and leisure. As they developed from our own history and urban planning traditions they seem to be an integral part of our cities, and their spatial and architectural qualities are much appreciated. In short, they are examples for the city of tomorrow. The term ‘Stadtfabrik’ (literally city-factory) therefore means districts which learn from the qualities of converted factory sites in order to produce new buildings with similar qualities: a dense, mixed, specific city.
Stadtfabrik describes an approach to urban planning that is based concretely on morphological and typological knowledge gained from converted industrial sites (‘learning from’) and which understands these as new proto-typologies for urban planning. At the same time, this pair of terms describes a fundamental approach to a possible city of tomorrow: the synchronous city in which the homogeneous and rational depiction of a traditional society is not at the forefront but instead the fragmentary and disparate nature of the current age can be expressed.