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Design your city: A virtual reality experience for sustainable urban spaces

In the project, researchers from the ZHAW (School of Engineering, Social Work, Life Sciences and Facility Management) and the ZHdK (Knowledge Visualization) are creating and investigating an innovative tool for participatory design processes. This offers residents and decision-makers the opportunity to virtually experience and participate in the design of a planned redesign of a square, a traffic situation or existing parking spaces during the conception phase – i.e. before their implementation. For example, traffic-calming measures such as the reduction of street noise, new space conditions through low-car or car-free streets, e.g. for bicycle and pedestrian traffic, or new green spaces can be experienced immersively via the sense of sight and hearing.

The project is accompanied in its development by three different groups of practical partners. On the one hand, the Office of Urban Planning of the City of Zurich, on the other hand, NGOs such as UmverkehR and Fussverkehr Schweiz are involved and lastly, Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich as a mobility provider.

Gestalte Zürich supports the Zurich city administration in planning sustainable urban spaces and promotes a climate-friendly change in transport. In this way, the project makes an important contribution to the climate goal of the city and canton of Zurich of net zero CO2 emissions by 2040.

Figure: Exemplary illustration of the conversion of street sections to more space for pedestrians and greening.

Core team: 

Dr. Raphael Hoerler, ZHAW School of Engineering (Project lead)

Dr. Andrea Del Duce, ZHAW School of Engineering

Prof. Niklaus Heeb, ZHdK Departement Design

Dr. Muriel Siegwart, ZHAW Life Sciences und Facility Management 

Jonas Christen, ZHdK Knowledge Visualization 


Dr. Juliana Victoria Zapata Riveros, ZHAW School of Engineering

Paulet Michelle Scacco, ZHAW School of Engineering

Dr. Petra Bättig-Frey, ZHAW Life Sciences und Facility Management 

Dr. Anke KaschlikZHAW Soziale Arbeit

Noemi Chow, ZHdK Departement Design

Juan Camilo Garcia Osorio, ZHdK Digitalrat

Olav Lervik, ZHdK Departement Musik 

Mirjam West, catta gmbh

Mats Ammann, catta gmbh

Practice partner: 


Tiefbauamt Stadt Zürich

Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich (VBZ)

Amt für Städtebau Zürich


Fussverkehr Schweiz

Stadt Zürich Sozialdepartment

Running time: 2023-2025