From urban wastelands to new-build gentrification: The case of Swiss cities



Gentrification represents an important aspect of the transformation of socio-demographic structures in many cities around the world. The definition of this concept has been extended in recent years to cover different processes of social upgrading and to incorporate a plurality of forms, protagonists, and spaces. The notion of ‘new-build gentrification’ is part of this process of redefinition. Because of its strong connections with global socioeconomic trends, the adoption of regeneration and densification policies along with the emergence of numerous new urban districts, Switzerland offers a particularly interesting case in which to study this specific form of gentrification. In this paper, we first provide an assessment of the residential attractiveness of Swiss core cities for the middle to upper class. We then study new housing projects in Zurich and Neuchâtel. Our focus on the actors involved in these projects brings original results to the debates surrounding the driving forces behind new-build gentrification. Empirical material is drawn from official statistics, questionnaires relating to inhabitant profiles, interviews concerned with the strategies of actors in the real-estate market, and planning policy documents. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.