ETH Zürich – Institut für Städtebau
HIL H44.1 – Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5 – 8093 Zürich



Urban development is strongly determined by transport infrastructures. Many railway stations were initially positioned outside of the city limits but have long since developed into urban centralities, and tramways and highways were among the most important conditions for the extensive growth of cities far into the surrounding region. Presently, air travel is the most rapidly growing transport sector. International flight connections are especially important for those cities which are competing globally. Accordingly, the relation between airport and city is and will be formative for urban development today and during the coming decades.


The growth of air travel confronts planning with new challenges. Cities rapidly develop around the new traffic nodes, with effects such as settlements in areas with heavy noise. Also, airports change the overall transport system and become important centers of the metropolitan region with uses such as shopping or leisure. For this reason, the Chair of Prof. Kees Christiaanse focuses on deeper understanding the reciprocity of Airport and City development as a point of departure for research and teaching activities on the contemporary city: In all related activities, the airport is used as a vantage point that provides the globality and scale required for understanding today's cities.


Work in the research platform is based on specific case studies with hub airports near their urban core, such as Zurich, Munich, Singapore, the Pearl River Delta or Amsterdam. As each of these urban systems is highly specific, the interaction of the city with the airport is studied closely and under different perspectives. Through the analysis and comparison of urbanization effects between the different cases, general conclusions are drawn and recommendations made how to better integrate the two systems, leading towards more sustainable airport and urban development strategies. The work also serves to complement current conceptual models of the city with the aspect of airport regions.


The activities of the research platform at the Chair are part of the international Airports and Cities research platform sponsored by the Chair of Prof. Kees Christiaanse, the SEC/ETH Future Cities Laboratory Singapore and TU Munich Professorship for Sustainable Urbanism, Prof. Mark Michaeli (see the respective websites for related activities). Main themes of the research platform are (1) Urbanisation effects of hub airports; (2) Evolution and dissemination of airport design and planning; (3) Best practices of enhanced reciprocity of airports and cities; and (4) Conceptual models for airports and cities. The platform collaborates with academic, governmental, and industrial partners in teaching, research, and publication projects. As partner of his office KCAP, Prof. Kees Christiaanse is also Masterplanner to Schiphol Airport and Advisor to Kloten Airport.


Contact: Eirini Kasioumi