Meeting places: harnessing potential on the doorstep Model project 2020–24: ‘Harnessing the potential of meeting places’

Better use should be made of the potential of local streets as meeting points and play areas. Through transdisciplinary dialogue, this pilot project aims to foster the appropriation of road space and a sense of local community.


  • Lead school(s) School of Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering
  • Institute Institute for Urbanism, Architecture and Construction ISAK
  • Funding organisation Modellvorhaben Nachhaltige Raumentwicklung 2020-2024
  • Duration (planned) 01.03.2020 - 30.12.2024
  • Project management William Fuhrer
  • Head of project Angela von Däniken
  • Project staff Jenny Leuba (PL FV)
    Petra Stocker (PJ)
    Alice Chénais (AO)
    Angela von Däniken (BFH)
    William Fuhrer (BFH)
  • Partner Fussverkehr Schweiz
    Pro Juventute
    Atelier Olga
    Bundesamt für Gesundheit BAG
  • Keywords Raumentwicklung, Siedlungsentwicklung nach Innen, Städtebau, Quartierplanung, Freiraumplanung, Aneignung, Evaluation

Starting point

There is tremendous pressure on the use of existing open spaces due to the spacial planning challenge of ensuring adequate and sustainable inward urban development. This should be embraced as an opportunity to enhance existing public outdoor spaces for local residents and to turn them into high-quality environments.

Meeting places in residential suburbs are ideal for fostering short distances, exercise and social interaction in urban settings. They represent untapped potential for more pedestrian and bicycle traffic as a basic form of mobility, and more social interaction, play and appropriation of the road space. Despite traffic-calming measures, experts and residents indicate there is generally little appropriation of meeting places. What is required to ensure the space available meets the needs of local residents?


The concept of the meeting place is enhanced as part of the project through a transdisciplinary process covering transport planning, spatial planning, socio-cultural measures and local resident input. The aim is to promote meeting places as a space for social interaction and exercise. Two existing meeting places, one in Bern and one in Zurich, are being modified through participative, socio-cultural and structural intervention so that they are appropriated to a greater extent by the local community. This process is also being guided by the issues of sustainability, biodiversity and heat reduction. The result includes temporary and permanent infrastructure changes, such as unlocking areas, floor markings, planting and furniture.

The project is being supported scientifically by the Institute for Urban Development and Infrastructure ISI at Bern University of Applied Sciences. This scientific support aims to analyse and evaluate the impact of the intervention in the meeting places in Bern and Zurich on the intensity of use and interaction. On-site observations will be carried out before and after the intervention, and interaction between neighbours will be evaluated with special emphasis on children, activities on the street and types of active mobility, such as walking or cycling.


The project seeks to improve the quality of life in the residential areas through more social interaction, exercise and revitalisation of the street space, to inspire a new culture of play and social interaction and to create new opportunities for appropriating and designing street space. The interventions will also raise awareness about biodiversity and the environment in the street setting.

The longitudinal analysis of the two pilot streets aims to show the extent to which the intervention is having an impact and how much the quality of life in the meeting places analysed can be improved.


The intervention at a meeting place in Bern is set to take place in summer 2021, while the one in Zurich will go ahead in 2022. Preliminary results are expected in autumn 2021.

The impact of the project is being awaited with great anticipation.

Video from World Health Organization (WHO)

Healthy Cities: Urban governance for health and well-being, examples from Swiss cities, mention of the project in Berne from 11:12 onwards

Sponsors of the project

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