The End of Youth

Design Studio
Spring Semester 2023

The youthful optimism ushered in through the industrial revolution, facilitating the advent of a modernist architecture that explored an incredible freedom of form and space, culminating in a contemporary architecture of sometimes exhilarating form. Overtime, buildings have detached themselves from any concerns related to climate, geography, nature, and human conditions, to become more about technical possibilities focused on constant invention sometimes to the detriment of the buildings’ use or usefulness.
Architecture has often been an agent of that isolation and degradation through the typologies we design. They are easily complicit in reinforcing class segregations, cultural segregations, or even generational segregations. In a time of environmental collapse, economic fragility and rapidly aging societies, we are becoming more and more vulnerable, yet we live painfully separate and segregated lives from each other. We no longer have the built infrastructure to live together, even though we clearly need one another, as was made painfully evident by the COVID global pandemic. In short, the dismissal of the realities inherent to the context of buildings might be incompatible with a healthier, more responsible and more connected future.

This studio will ponder the place of architecture in this time of crisis and fragilities. The focus will be on a neighborhood of Zürich where students will immerse themselves in the local environment, social and economic context of the project through in-depth research. The course will unfold as a process that will help and encourage participants to imagine typologies that are multi-layered solutions in response to a predominant social vulnerability.


View of Dachslernstrasse, 1945. Baugeschichtliches Archiv Zürich.


Martin Parr. New Brighton. Von „The Last Resort“, 1983-85


Construction of a traditional house, Pingpu, Guangxi China


Thomas Hirschhorn, „Simone Weil-Map“, 2020

Student Projects

Altstetten is a dynamic social mix. The neighborhood is a residential area, home to families with children, students, young adults, adults, as well as retired, older population, etc. Altstetten is also a place for working, for education, and for leisure with many sports facilities and green spaces. Our project anchor in Dachslernstrasse embodies this richness, as it is surrounded by many uses, users and programs: schools, retirement homes, religious spaces, a museum, a neighborhood community center, and a space for sport. However, the existing urban and architectural qualities would benefit from an intelligent intervention that contributes positively to a vibrant public life for the neighborhood. The initial research conducted about Altstetten is now to be deepened at the scale of the plot. We will analyze the existing functions, users, structures, and ecology of the immediate vicinities. The studio has a strong focus on continuity and interconnection between research and design processes. We therefore encourage a holistic understanding of the complexity and multi-layered realities of the site: Histories, Architectural Heritage, Narratives, Human Landscapes, Affective Heritage, Climate, Sustainability, Ambiances, and Economies remain topics until the end.

↗  click on corresponding project for more details

Rolf Imseng

Growing Together
Airas Sánchez Keller, Julian Rickenbacher

Madleina Fischer, Mike Zweidler

Building Bridges
Anouk Fischer, Laurianne Chassot

A New Old Center
Max Nagler, Matthias Bietenhard

A Seat at the Table
Helia Jamshidi, Laia Meier

Deniz Örün, Elina Leuba

Community Classroom
Dario Toppan, Oluwasegun Ogunsola

Altstetten's Public Living Room
Sahra Khan, Inès Rausis

Growing Diversity
Olivia Beeler, Charlotte Thallinger

Support Next Door
Adrienne Enz, Monika Grabski

A Place for a Caring Community
Samuel Santschi, Philipp Schmid

Melodies of Altstetten
Andela Pejici, Yann Schwaller

Re-Generation Werkstatt
Delphine Potterat, Loraine Limacher

Address & 

Prof. Mariam Issoufou
Chair for Architecture Heritage & Sustainability
ETH Zürich
Department of Architecture

HIL E 47.1
Stefano–Franscini–Platz 5
CH–8093 Zürich
+44 633 48 58