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Old 01.09.2015, 23:47
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Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

A friend visited last week, who loved Lucerne, Berne, Geneva and Lausanne, but thought Zurich was "too boring" and "lacking inspiration". I've had other friends complaining of the usual, eg weather and too modern buildings, but this was kind of new.

Then I read this article today (http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/why-...ssed-citizens/). Here is an excerpt:

Collectively, studies of both extreme and moderate forms of environmental deprivation provide compelling evidence that boring environments can generate stress, impulsivity, lowered levels of positive affect, and risky behaviour. At this point, we simply don’t know the extent to which such effects might be produced by simple daily exposure to poorly designed urban environments or building interiors because the studies have not yet been done. However, based on well-understood principles of neuroplasticity and on what is known of the effects of deprivation and enrichment in other more extreme settings, along with studies such as those conducted by Gehl and by my research group in several cities worldwide, there is every reason to believe that these sterile, homogeneous environments are exerting a measurable effect on our behaviour, and likely our brains as well. Given this, the prudent design of city streets and buildings is a matter of public health.

Article might sound exaggerated, but some of the things mentioned resonate with me. I don't feel stressed by the urban environment per se, though I wouldn't mind seeing more green elements, as well as diversity in architecture and arts. What's interesting is when I return from a longer stay abroad in a large city, I tend experience Zurich to be comparatively dull and monotonous, till I get used to it again.

I also agree with the worrisome shift from being in touch with our environment to being constantly reachable on gadgets:

Another factor is our increasing reliance on digital technologies, which has shifted the focus of human attention palpably downward into the upturned faces of our phones and away from our physical surroundings. This problem has become so acute that, when she was New York’s transportation planner, Janette Sadik-Khan ordered large, attention-catching graphics to be painted onto the sidewalk at the city’s busiest and most dangerous intersections, to remind distracted pedestrians to look up from their devices to avoid impact with oncoming vehicles. (...) In a very real sense, we are no longer there as we used to be, and our physical surroundings are no longer as real as they used to be.

Anyone finds Swiss cities to be too homogenous?
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Old 02.09.2015, 00:40
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

yup! lack of architecture and culture for sure. Regardless if its modern or old the architecture here is bland, and same same a bit like most of the food
Most cities feel the same. But its clean and beats the urban chaos in say London
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Old 02.09.2015, 00:43
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

In terms of architecture, I agree that most of the modern stuff in Zürich is pretty homogenous and frankly, depressingly so, but then you could say the same of London or NewYork overall. So this isn't a specific Zürich problem but more a problem of uninspired modern copycat architects who are caught in a dangerous repeat loop. Having said that, not all of Zürich is modern and there is sufficient stuff left over from previous eras that you don't have to live in the modern bits if you don't want to. I lived in a fairly mixed area that I don't at all find depressingly monotonous. Some pretty older houses, green spaces etc as well as plenty of people who are not part of the all the same modernist cartelist interchangeable trend and so add plenty of individuality.
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Old 02.09.2015, 09:37
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

It's a good question - I find Swiss cities, particularly the smaller ones but also Zurich, much less homogenous than UK ones.

There isn't the same level of cutting edge architecture as in London, but that's a mixed bag anyway - half of it is great, the other half is frankly rubbish or downright dangerous.

Here you don't always get the same rows and rows of identical houses, in fact it's common to see many different designs all on the same street, unlike London or Birmingham where they litterally go for miles with the same design.

You do have to look for the architecture though - Zurich has some amazing smaller buildings in the old town parts, particularly if you look up at some of the roofs and even better look down on them.
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Old 02.09.2015, 10:08
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

Not in my experience...

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Old 02.09.2015, 10:53
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

I get my Swiss cities directly from the farmer, so they're not homogenous at all.


You have to remember to take a bottle, though.
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Old 02.09.2015, 11:01
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

Are Swiss cities/towns homogenous?

I'll answer with a number of questions:
- have Swiss cities/towns been rebuilt in the last 70 years following significent war time damage?
- have Swiss cities/towns a history dating back more than 115 years?

If someone believes they are homeogenous (and there are factors that are leading in someway to elements being homeogenous, but arguably less so that other "western" countries) their viewpoint must be rooted in culture with far greater diversity.

So, are Swiss cities/towns more homogenous then xxxxx? Back to you Lorena!
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Old 02.09.2015, 11:55
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

I used to live on a side street of Niderdorfstrasse in a building that dated to the 1500s and had massive wooden beams supporting the ceiling and none of the walls were parallel. The basement had masonry vaults that wouldn't have looked totally out of place in a church (and in fact judging by the carvings some of the stones had been recycled from a church of some description, or quite possibly, a synagogue). You could almost have charged people money to come and look at it, yet it was just a basement where people stored their junk and potatoes and bicycles and things. Going outside the streets were cobbled and gaslit and there was a fountain on the street corner. Zürich is still full of little teasures that aren't polished up to look nice for tourists but are just in use more or less as the people who built them all those years ago intended. Everything is real. Its not Disneyland. This makes it all the more fascinating.

So no, not all of Zürich is boring, homogenopus or monotonous.
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Old 02.09.2015, 13:01
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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Are Swiss cities/towns homogenous?

I'll answer with a number of questions:
- have Swiss cities/towns been rebuilt in the last 70 years following significent war time damage?
- have Swiss cities/towns a history dating back more than 115 years?

If someone believes they are homeogenous (and there are factors that are leading in someway to elements being homeogenous, but arguably less so that other "western" countries) their viewpoint must be rooted in culture with far greater diversity.

So, are Swiss cities/towns more homogenous then xxxxx? Back to you Lorena!

> Schaffhausen downtown was REbuilt after the heavy bombardment of 1st April 1944 and the rebuilding went on into the late 1960ies
> most Swiss cities date back 800 to 2100 years
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Old 02.09.2015, 13:16
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

[QUOTE=Wollishofener;2443080
> most Swiss cities date back 800 to 2100 years[/QUOTE]

I'm sure they do, or even older, but I'm not so sure structures dating from 85 BC would still be in use today
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Old 02.09.2015, 13:18
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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I'm sure they do, or even older, but I'm not so sure structures dating from 85 BC would still be in use today
Possibly not in Switzerland, but some Roman aqueducts and bridges in France and Italy and other countries still serve their original purpose today.

There were Roman sewers under London that continued in use until recent times.
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Old 02.09.2015, 13:50
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

From what I've seen, Swiss cities seem to have done a better job of preserving some remnant of character - it's the suburbs and villages around here that are turning into one sad stretch of dismal homogeneity.


They took paradise and put up a parking lot concrete box.
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Old 02.09.2015, 13:59
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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I'm sure they do, or even older, but I'm not so sure structures dating from 85 BC would still be in use today
There's a public loo near here that look like it dates back to 85BC.
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Old 02.09.2015, 14:16
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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From what I've seen, Swiss cities seem to have done a better job of preserving some remnant of character - it's the suburbs and villages around here that are turning into one sad stretch of dismal homogeneity.


They took paradise and put up a parking lot concrete box.

This I fear is too much like the truth. Just near me two lovely old houses both standing in beautiful gardens have been pulled down and now concrete is being poured in box form. Maybe it's a generation change, maybe it's money, maybe it's both - but I'm going to miss the flowers.
In my opinion people these days don't want to do anything else than to live inside a luxury box, watch TV, use Internet, iphones, and all the rest - no-one is interested in anything being (for want of a better word) pretty. At one time almost all balconies were full of geraniums, whole roads were pictures of delight. Let's stay with brown field sites and let the countryside be the countryside.


It's the love of money I presume - in the end.
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Old 02.09.2015, 14:30
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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They took paradise and put up a parking lot concrete box.
Which doesn't differs from the UK and its country villages with semi-detached housing estate; or US towns with attached gated community.

The one advantage over here is that the developments tend to be smaller - may 6-10 houses - instead some of the vast 100-200 home develops that crop up in the UK. (Although I admit the regneration of Wallisellen and Stettbach has resulted in the building of 3/4 million** apartments)


**Looks like that many anyway!
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Old 02.09.2015, 14:40
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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I'm sure they do, or even older, but I'm not so sure structures dating from 85 BC would still be in use today


The LINDENHOF in Zch DOES date back to about 150 BC
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Old 02.09.2015, 14:50
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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The LINDENHOF in Zch DOES date back to about 150 BC
Thats nothing, the toilets of the 10 Bells on Commercial Street in London are believed to have been last renovated around the fall of the Assyrian Empire
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Old 02.09.2015, 14:54
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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The LINDENHOF in Zch DOES date back to about 150 BC
A quick Wikipedia tells me that the only original piece is a roman tombstone dating from the 2nd century AD. Perhaps you have a more accurate reference?
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Old 02.09.2015, 15:11
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

The Roman Theatre in Orange was built in the 1st century AD, and is still in use (and I used to live in Orange).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%...e_d'Orange

Anyway, for Swiss stuff:







Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 02.09.2015 at 15:26.
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Old 02.09.2015, 15:12
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Re: Are Swiss cities too homogenous?

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A quick Wikipedia tells me that the only original piece is a roman tombstone dating from the 2nd century AD. Perhaps you have a more accurate reference?

Even official sources


https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linden..._H%C3%BCgelzug)


speak about 15 BEFORE-C so not AD But BC
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