From 2 November 2020, the autumn semester 2020 will take place online. Exceptions: Courses that can only be carried out with on-site presence. Please note the information provided by the lecturers via e-mail.

851-0703-04L  Legal Rules in Urban Space

SemesterAutumn Semester 2017
LecturersO.  Streiff Gnöpff
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman
CommentNumber of participants limited to 60

Particularly suitable for students of D-ARCH


AbstractLegal rules are tied to urban space. Illustrative is the relation between land ownership and urban morphology or between zoning and the functional dimension of urban space. Legal concepts (from property law, fundamental rights and administrative law) with spatial impacts are introduced and related to the theory of urban design. Moreover, it is discussed how these concepts shape specific places.
ObjectiveStudents recognize the interplay between legal structures and urban space. They can describe legal concepts with spatial impact. Moreover, they are able to compare legally binding targets with theoretical approaches in urban design. By analysing specific places, students learn to find relevant norms, to analyse and to judge them with regard to urban design theories. Thereby, they are able to distinguish design and policy questions.
ContentUsing the the term «lawscape» (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos), we initially discuss general aspects of the interplay between legal rules and urban space.

The first part of the course is about the morphological dimension of urban space. We compare positions of urban planners like Trancik (Finding Lost Space) or Rowe/Koetter (Collage City) with property law. Freedom of property in turn contrasts to the theoretical approaches of Bernoulli (Die Stadt und ihr Boden) or Rossi (L'architettura della città). Using court decisions concerning nail houses, we study the tensions between urban development and the system of property ownership.

The second part of the course is about the functional dimension of urban space. Key concept is the zone (cf. CIAM 4). This concept is criticized (Wolfrum, Zoning Bien Défini). We compare the concept as well as the critique with the main concerns in spatial planning law. Environmental law and neighbouring rights are also relevant.

In the third part of the course, we work on the social, visual and temporal dimensions of urban space. The positions of Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), Cullen (Townscape) or Lynch (The Presence of the Past) are compared with the dichotomy public space/private space, safety regulations, regulations on design reviews or heritage protection laws.

Working tools are theoretical texts, legal rules, court decisions as well as site analyses. Students undertake a case study in small groups. Selected case studies are presented and discussed in a final meeting.
Lecture notesSee Literature.
LiteratureDocuments will be available online (see https://moodle-app2.let.ethz.ch/course/view.php?id=3282).
Prerequisites / NoticeNumber of participants limited to: 60