Smart Public Space.

Smart Public Space

Smart Public Space.

Cities, neighbourhoods and sites have an influence on how we move around and how we behave, feel and interact with one another. The constant high density we experience in urban environments makes the way public spaces are designed an increasingly important quality of life factor. Smart public spaces help improve quality of life by creating a networked, automated and functionally flexible environment that conserves resources.

SBB owns large sites with good transport connections in numerous cities and municipalities in Switzerland. Together with current and potential users and other stakeholders, SBB has a responsibility to develop these sites into future-oriented, sustainable and attractive spaces. This is a dynamic process that necessitates a participatory approach and specific expertise, as well as administrative structures that can be further developed.

Smart city development involves a continuous rather than linear progression of phases. If local residents are incorporated into projects, their needs can be identified and conflicts can be avoided. This results in the creation of vibrant neighbourhoods with a functional, demographic and sociocultural mix of individuals who live, work, shop, dine and spend time in an area that is seamlessly connected to its surroundings and enjoys a high degree of acceptance among the local population. Such neighbourhoods also support the development of a thriving local economy.


SBB develops open spaces for encounters at its sites, and these spaces become distinctive city locations. This leads to the creation of safe and attractive living areas with optimal mobility connections.


  • When developing its sites, SBB relies on participatory processes, especially with regard to exterior designs.
  • SBB employs networked sensor systems to optimise the utilisation and management of its sites.
  • SBB builds multifunctional sites with ecologically sound outdoor spaces that appeal to various stakeholders.

The new reality: Participatory process for Neugasse in Zurich.

SBB worked directly with the local population while developing the concept for its Neugasse site in Zurich.

Approximately 200 people took part in workshops on the project over a period of eight months. The participants formulated ideas, defined requirements, built models and discussed solutions for various problems. Specialists used the results of this process to draw up an urban development concept for the site. Interested stakeholders were able to stay informed via the project website, a newsletter and public meetings.

Despite the extra cost and effort involved, the process was extremely beneficial for all parties and stakeholders. The workshop participants were able to contribute their ideas and opinions to the construction project, while SBB and its partners developed a better understanding of important aspects associated with the site. SBB will use the experience gained through the Neugasse project to develop similar participatory processes for future projects.