Switzerland - Renovation or Demolition?

Why? The demolition of buildings en masse to make room for new buildings is an important and, unfortunately, underestimated factor in climate change. Especially in developed countries with existing, high quality building stock, the decarbonization of the built environment needs to start by questioning demolition projects and avoiding unnecessary new construction.

How? Using innovative storytelling to point out the problem of mass demolitions and to highlight the positive climate impact of energy-efficient renovation and other societal benefits of preserving existing buildings as an alternative approach to city planning.

The focus of the project is on crowd-based investigation, in which citizens report on buildings threatened with demolition and share stories about these buildings through a so-called CrowdNewsroom. The different stories are collected in real time and shown online on an interactive map. The result is a continuously growing directory that illuminates the variety of relationships citizens have with existing buildings while highlighting their impact on urban society. Individual stories will also be published in the media to create public awareness. The aim is to launch a public debate about alternatives to mass demolition, supported by partners from industry and civil society.

The Focus

The Correctiv aims to establish crowd-based investigation for citizens to report on buildings threatened with demolition and share stories.

Impact? Planning processes and construction plans may be reconsidered as a result – through voluntary commitments by architects or building companies as well as in concrete changes to municipal planning laws.

Where? Switzerland is the perfect case study. As a small country with a lot of construction activity, it is ideally suited for this pilot project. The innovative approach of crowd-based storytelling with the CrowdNewsroom has already been tested in Switzerland on other issues with encouraging results. The ultimate goal of the project is to promote urban communities by maintaining cities as places of social identification and to drastically reduce the climate impact of the building sector through a transition based on best practice within the industry. The international presentation of the project and its findings should allow similar research to be carried out in other countries. Put together, the positive impact on the climate through the preservation of more building stock and its climate-friendly renovation is an important factor, alongside clean construction, in making construction more climate friendly.

Who? TPF’s partner in the project is the CORRECTIV CrowdNewsroom, a non-profit newsroom based in Bern that facilitates journalistic investigations on social grievances, allowing many individuals to participate. Its core is a digital platform where information can be shared in a secure and confidential way. CORRECTIV CrowdNewsroom aims to mobilize a network of partners for this project that includes architects and the construction industry.

When? The first phase of the campaign has been carried out in 2022 and early 2023, supported by a grant of CHF 45,000 from the Toni Piëch Foundation. In early 2023, the project has entered its second phase, the main campaign phase, and is being supported by a grant of CHF 70,000 from the Toni Piëch Foundation.