Basel Euro Ville evaluation

their impact by extending the scope of the improvement to urban and local connections. To enhance the station's transport centrality at the urban level, two tram lines will be diverted, and a third, already connected, will be extended into the suburbs. Upgrading of the transportation node also includes a rationalization of pedestrian and bicycle accesses and connections. A new road bypass on the south side of the tracks and new underground parking facilities complete the picture. A direct link to the motorway system is also planned, but construction has been postponed for a combination of financial and political reasons. Funding for all these infrastructures—with the exception of the motorway link—has been secured, and a detailed implementation schedule has been agreed upon. The degree of certainty and consistency of this infrastructure package is remarkable, and is the product of a carefully articulated and patiently constructed decision process.

The solid framework of transport and infrastructure programmes shapes an essential condition for achieving the second part of the station area development strategy, the realization of a service centre. The 'enabling' approach to investment does not stop at the node level, but is extended to the place, or station neighbourhood, level. An important aspect here is the improvement of connections across the tracks, and the upgrading of the entrance to the station on the south (non-city) side, in order to open up property development opportunities in areas until now virtually cut off from the historic centre. In developing these and other nontransport parts of the plan a project-by-project, building-by-building approach has been adopted. For example, all attention is being focused on Bahnhof Ost, the first stage to be put on the market. This sort of approach leads to a second observation. While reducing risks, such a fragmented property development strategy could rebound. A strong overarching concept connecting developments in the transport and activity spheres, both within and between each other, seems to be lacking. As a result, while the transportation interchange is gradually taking shape, the nature of the service centre is still permeated by uncertainty.

The third observation concerns process aspects. The initiative was taken by a partnership of the local and regional government and the federal railway company. They promoted together an open planning process, which resulted in Konzept 86, a broadly discussed document fixing the key spatial and functional guidelines of the project. A second (1986-1991) and a third (19911995) more 'closed' planning phases followed, during which the programme was translated first into a technically and financially feasible plan and then into a set of independent but coordinated implementation projects. The whole package was repeatedly submitted to political scrutiny, and was finally approved by the city council in 1995. The early, broadly shared agreement on the basic concepts embodied in Konzept 86 has been a key element in ensuring acceptance of and commitment to the project during the subsequent stages. However, the virtual cessation of public consultation in the latter stages has been the object of repeated criticism from the local community, and may have weakened public support and momentum. This could prove especially problematic in view of the absence of a strong, integrated vision for the place, as mentioned above.

The fourth and last observation stems from the recognition of the exceptionally high degree of flexibility of the urban development plan, both in space and in time. The market components are being developed in stages. Bahnhof Ost, the first of them, is under construction; other sections of the area are still in a plannin phase, while the remaining sections are set aside as reserve. In order to make it more manageable, implementation has been considered in terms of financially and functionally independent subprojects. All decisions regarding the infrastructure have been defined in detail, and related financing has been secured, so that there is an accountable framework for the volatile private investment. The infrastructure, the related public investment and the land-use plan could be considered the 'hard' elements, shaping conditions for the progressive definition of the associated commercial components, seen as 'soft' elements. Flexibility of the latter is extreme, and goes down to the building level. Bahnhof Ost is conceived as a building made of sub-buildings. A two-floor basement is being constructed, on which autonomous mid-rise office segments will be added when and if investors and users are found. Risk is thus greatly reduced. But again, such an extreme fragmentation in the implementation may also have its flip-side in the loss of global coherence, and ultimately of the appeal of the area.

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