Research Project

The Acceptance of Density

What is seen as just in a society largely depends on public reasoning, which occurs in public debates. The research analyses public debates around land use and densification in Switzerland and The Netherlands to understand how private and public interests interrelate in the tensions of urban growth.

The research is based on the hypothesis that while a consensus on the desirability of densification may exist in public, its implementation may cause direct tensions on a local level where it affects the quality of the immediate living environment. Therefore, insights into the acceptance of densification at a local level are considered important factors for successfully implementing densification projects. The research is based on quantitative and qualitative discourse analysis covering public media outlets of different reach between 2009 – 2019. During that time, both countries implemented policies to limit land take and promote densification to answer the demand for housing in metropolitan areas. With their relatively high population densities and historical awareness of the scarcity of land and environmental concerns, both countries are at the forefront of sustainable planning. At the same time, both countries strongly differ in their specific planning approaches and historical perception of private property. Findings show a strong focus on private interests that dominate the debate and general disconnection of public and private interest in both countries, despite differences in policies and discourse.

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Posters for public referendum in: Andreas Kofler Hrsg: Dichtelust: Formen des Urbanen Zusammenlebens in der Schweiz, SAM, Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel, 2018.

Partners: Million Homes, Management of the Built Environment, TU Delft

Duration of the project: 1 year (2020 – 2021)

Principal Investigator: Tanja Herdt

Researchers: Arend Jonkman