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Microsoft word - abstract_kaufmann.doc

Sustainable Urban Habitat for Families
Main aplicant: Vincent Kaufmann
Laboratoire de Sociologie Urbaine (LaSUR/ENAC) Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Co-applicants : Jacques Levy (CHOROS,EPFL) , Luca Pattaroni
(LaSUR, EPFL), Luca Ortelli (LCC2, EPFL), Adriana
Rabinovich (LaSUR,
Catherine Jenny (LaSUR, EPFL)


The present research proposal will examine the trade-offs in the residential location decisions of families. Its has two objectives: to identify the combination of planning-related elements that by their very nature attract families to certain residential locations and that favour a way of life which is less reliant on car use; 2) to highlight the conditions needed to realise and develop these elements by analysing initiatives and inno- vative processes in relation to the urban family habitat.


The main questions of the project are :
What are the elements which influence a family’s choice of residential location What are the factors which contribute to a good and sustainable quality of life ? In what way can architectural projects and urban policies contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of families in an urban context ? We propose testing three hypotheses: H1: In terms of the trade-offs in the residential location decisions of families, the aspiration of living in a detached prop-erty can be counterbalanced by a combination of criteria, such as social contact with neighbours, involvement of the resi-dents in the design of their habitat, the architectural quality of the accommodation, the range of existing amenities and the methods used to create habitat. H2: Car journeys undertaken by families depend more on the quality of life in the given neighbourhood (traffic reduction,
green spaces and recreational areas) and the quality of the urban public transport service in terms of space and time than
on whether they live in detached or high-occupancy accommodation.
H3: Citizen initiatives aimed at improving the lives of families encourage them to centre their way of life in the neigh-
bourhood in which they live as this creates social networks with neighbours and by doing so improves their quality of
Underlying those hypotheses lies the idea that the attractiveness of urban center depends not only from financial consid-
erations but reflects more complex interrelations between the phenomenological experience of the city, social processes
and cognitive elements (rational and representational). This calls for a theoretical framework which allows to tackle to-
gether perceptual and cognitive elements along with material settings. In such a perspective, the idea of “quality of life”
has to be analyzed in relation with the various activities taken place in the city (sleep, work, mobility, leisure, social en-
counters) and the material and cognitive conditions for their success (urban policies, architectural solutions, cognitive
frame of references, and so on).
In order to achieve such an analysis different methods have to be successively used. Therefore, the research will be based
in the same time on quantitative methods (statistical analysis of neighbourhoods, surveys) and qualitative one (in-depth
interviews, participative observation).
Expected Results
Identification of the elements which may influence a family’s choice of residential location and the quality Draft of an architectural and urban planning charter aimed at promoting a sustainable family habitat. Launching of three pilot projects implementing the charter.
Within the PNR 54, there will be collaborations with the project from Etienne Piguet « Back to the city ? » and we might
also consider collaboration
Outside Switzerland, two types of collaboration are going to take place .
In order to develop comparisons, case studies based on the same theoretical and methodological frame will be undertaken by two institutes in Europe : o Faculté universitaire de St Louis de Bruxelles, Belgique. Institut Français d’Urbanisme, France. A network of international expert will also contribute on different aspects of the research : Françoise Navez-Bouchanine (CRESSAC-CRH/Louest, Paris), Marc Breviglieri (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences so-
ciales, Paris), David Mangin (architect).
Case Study Area(s)
This work will focus on case studies of two urban regions in Switzerland – Lausanne and Berne -which differ in terms of urban spread as well as the quality of their public transport service. Case studies will be carried out in 12 neighbourhoods (6 per city) which differ in terms of their (central, suburban or periurban) geographical location and the dynamism of community activities aimed at improving the lives of the resident families.


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