About Us

As a core area of living, housing is subject to the interplay between social and technological transformations. This challenge is at the heart of our activities at the internationally positioned research centre ETH Wohnforum – ETH CASE (Centre for Research on Architecture, Society & the Built Environment). Our work focuses on the design of liveable housing environments, relying in the process on our many years of experience in the field of housing research in Switzerland and abroad. The results are practically relevant solution approaches to the design of liveable cities and to the development of good and affordable housing.

The goal of our work is to formulate basic principles, strategies and application-orientated solution proposals on questions of housing, in particular concerning the quality and production of residential space in urban and agglomeration areas. We have a profound store of expert knowledge at our disposal in the social and cultural sciences, architectural and spatial research, as well as in the development of the methods and instruments with which to analyse and design human settlements.

Founded in 1990, the ETH Wohnforum – ETH CASE positions itself at the interface between academic research, praxis and societal mediation, and assists in magnifying the impact of research results. We work on an interdisciplinary basis and profit from the interplay between socio-political and scientific-analytical processes of problem solving. In order to achieve these ends we use both our professional expertise and our broad network of participants. In combination with each other we define spheres of action, reflect on current trends and formulate both theory-led and practice-orientated solutions to the central issues in housing and residential development. Our particular strength is anchored in the inclusion of the participating actors, in particular the views and perceptions of the users themselves.

Our cooperation partners include public institutions such as federal, municipal and local authorities, civil-society organisations such as UN-Habitat, as well as cooperatives, associations, NGOs and foundations, and equally private-sector players. We receive commissions from federal agencies (BWO, BSV, ARE, BFE, BFK), foundations and from independent business partners.

Our research projects are supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Commission, the Innosuisse (the former Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation, KTI), and by foundations and commercial enterprises.

Our range of courses, for instance the MAS ETH in Housing, are directed towards students, graduates and professionals working in architecture, housing research, urbanism and planning who wish to deepen their knowledge on questions of changes in housing and housing needs, cooperative housing forms, innovative housing forms, affordable housing development, sustainable neighbourhood and housing-project development, housing quality and qualities in the residential environment, socio-spatial and spatial correlations in neighbourhoods, and housing projects and the home in a national or equally international context.

The research focuses of the ETH Wohnforum – ETH CASE are guided by the global challenges of future housing:

Housing and Housing Needs in Transition

  • Neighbourhoods and questions of shared living
  • Housing and the second half of life
  • The effects of migration flows
  • Cooperative housing models
  • Innovative housing forms
  • House biographies

Liveable Neighbourhoods

  • Sustainable neighbourhood and housing-project development
  • Quality in housing, densification and the residential environment
  • Location analyses and needs assessments

Political Steering Processes and Governance in Planning and the Housing Sector

  • Policies and strategies of access to housing for disadvantaged social groups
  • Models and qualities of affordable housing construction
  • Planning as cultural praxis
  • Relocation and reconstruction in the Global South