Quality of life is a challenging concept. What exactly constitutes quality of life differs from person to person, but at the same time there are things that are equally important to all people. If quality of life is not to remain an empty phrase in the planning and management of cities, urban districts and sites, but is to become a guiding principle for action, then a viable concept is needed that can be translated into planning instruments and processes and offers a long-term perspective.
Challenge and goals
The term «quality of life» plays an important role in Swiss urban and spatial planning, in smart city strategies, area developments and master plans. It is often declared that the high quality of life of an area or city should be maintained or increased through various planning processes. At the same time, it is difficult to concretize «quality of life» at the city or site level. But without an operationalization that goes beyond subjective satisfaction, it is not possible to achieve a high quality of life in social, environmental and economic terms. To meet this challenge, good and manageable methods and instruments are needed.
The Basel pilot study allows first answers to this challenge. Together with an envisaged main study, the following objectives will be pursued:
- Concretization of «quality of life» for the Basel context of urban and site planning in terms of qualitative and quantitative criteria.
- Development of a model (evaluation tool, procedure, process guideline and instructions for implementation) for the consideration of quality of life in the planning and operation of sites.
For the Basel pilot study, a concept of quality of life is used that was developed specifically for the context of sustainability and that aims precisely to address the difficulties of operationalization. This concept of «Protected Needs» has been theoretically developed by the team members of the University of Basel in a series of interdisciplinary research projects, empirically confirmed by means of a representative survey in Switzerland and exploratively tested for the first time in four Asian megacities (Chennai, Metro Manila, Shanghai, Singapore) for its practical suitability for the management of urban parks.
We would like to make these findings and experiences usable for Switzerland. For this purpose, it is necessary to adapt this concept to the real planning and operational circumstances of sites in Swiss cities. In doing so, the concept of «Protected Needs» has to be operationalized in such a way that it provides a generally applicable framework, fits optimally with already existing tools in the field of sustainability, energy and climate and can be applied with a reasonable effort. To achieve this, we draw on novatlantis’ experience in concretizing the smartness of 2000-watt sites. Thanks to our experience and expertise, we are able to build bridges to established tools such as the Swiss Sustainable Building Standard SNBS, 2000-watt sites or the various gradations of the Minergie label line. These existing tools provide for the inclusion of quality of life aspects in the planning and operation phases of the sites, but are content with descriptive indicators and insufficiently differentiating checklists. The model we have developed is intended to close this gap, to improve the planning processes for investors, spatial and site planners, and site owners, and to be scientifically tested.
Basel Pilot Study
The pilot study is expected to produce two types of results: In a co-design phase, the approach and products for a main study are elaborated, thus ensuring that the main study is supported by many actors, that it is tailored to the needs and courses of action of key actors in practice from the outset, and that it takes account of their framework conditions. To ensure that the main study is supported by many actors, the pilot study also includes the identification of an initial network of actors with whom to collaborate in the main study and who are also to be networked with each other in the main study. In terms of content, the pilot study should lead to an initial assessment of the following questions: Where do the actors stand in relation to the topic of quality of life in areas? Where are the potentials and needs of this topic in individual areas and in the overall context of urban development? Where do central areas in Basel stand in this respect? How could the topic – the operationalization of quality of life, especially with regard to the planning and operation of sites – be further developed in the future at the level of sites and at the level of urban development?
The procedure in the pilot study includes:
a) Needs analyses with selected actors in the Basel administration and real estate sector,
b) several site visits and
c) triangulation of potential and perspectives in Basel.
Further information on the procedure and the results of the pilot study can be found in the final report.