European Metropolitan Region Northern Switzerland: Driving Agents for Spatial Development and Governance Responses
Switzerland, a country that is conceived and structured in small political and geographical units, is currently experiencing a phenomenon described in a recent publication as ‘Urbanscape Switzerland’ (Eisinger and Schneider, 2003). Its authors put forward the key question: ‘How do areas change?’ Urbanized landscapes, they argue, assume a key role in economic and societal development. The systemic structures of these areas are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to understand. Morphological descriptions of settlement structures that change over time no longer suffice. Vertical and horizontal networks link together actor and action systems and thus form the predominant characteristic of urbanized landscapes, as found in metropolitan regions such as Northern Switzerland. Most of these functional network effects occur almost unnoticed by the public. Even Swiss spatial planning guidelines still struggle to acknowledge the existence of a functional spatial level such as the European Metropolitan Region (EMR) of Northern Switzerland – with the backbone of the agglomerations of Zürich and Basel its most potent node.