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Research project SNSF: Â« Images and Urban Development. Production and Impact of 'Images' in the Metropolitan Areas of Zurich and GenevaÂ»
This Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) financed research project addresses the growing importance of neighbourhood images for urban development and in the real estate sector. By means of an investigation on two housing markets (Geneva and Zurich) and three groups of actors (the residential population as well as professional â€“ private and public â€“ actors of the real estate), the project aims at analysing this phenomena and improving its understanding. On the one hand, research questions focus on modalities by which neighbourhood images are produced: based on what criteria actors do they identify various neighbourhoods? What sources of knowledge neighbourhood images do they rely on, and what kind of representations, technologies and artefacts are involved in the production and the persistence of those images? On the other hand, the research examines the role of images in decision making which â€˜shapesâ€™ the real estate market: what is the role of images in residential choices? Which impacts do neighbourhood images have on the activities of professional (public or private) actors of the housing sector? Consequently, what is the role of those images in the real estate market and in the socio-spatial transformations of the two cities?
At a methodological level, the research leans on qualitative interviews with the actors mentioned above. Concerning flat-hunting persons, we will in particular analyse their search strategies and how they use new information and communication technologies for residential choices. Thus, the research aims at setting up a thorough knowledge about the production conditions and the consequences of neighbourhood images. This knowledge is designated to public authorities in charge of urban development as well as to private actors of the real estate sector, and aims at improving the strategies they carry out with their work on neighbourhood images.
This research project is directed by Prof. Joris Van Wezemael (Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg), Prof. Ola SÃ¶derstrÃ¶m (Geographic Institute, University of NeuchÃ¢tel) und Dr. Martina Koll-Schretzenmayr (Institute for Spatial and Landscape Planning, ETH ZÃ¼rich)