Towards a better understanding of public spaces

The European network HERA funds 20 projects focusing on public spaces. Among them, the projects of two Swiss-based researchers.

Janine Dahinden (University of Neuchâtel) analyses how market squares are used in smaller towns by looking at the mobility practices of business owners and local traders. Through their mobility and presence merchants help to transform marketplaces into inclusive public spaces. Understanding these practices helps city planners to develop urban infrastructures in the desired socio-cultural direction, for example by making market places more accessible to all social groups.

Marie Antoinette Glaser (ETH Zurich) looks at social housing estates to model the links between everyday informal practices and integration in public spaces. Social housing estates are often problematised as places of segregation and disintegration in European cities. They also are places where processes of social and cultural integration happen. Marie Antoinette Glaser analyses how the quality of everyday life could be improved by better integration.

International Cooperation

Both researchers have a strong interdisciplinary background and are well-connected internationally. In their HERA projects they will work with researchers from Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK as well as with partners in the US and Belgium.

The project work of Janine Dahinden and Marie Antoinette Glaser will be funded by the SNSF and the EU Commission.

20 million euros

The new ERA-NET HERA research programme investigates public spaces from a host of perspectives: structures and processes will be analysed as well as the link between culture and integration and how we could establish a better understanding of this link.

Around 20 million euros are available to fund the twenty projects. In total, 203 research groups submitted a pre-proposal, 77 of whom were invited to submit a full proposal. Eligibility to participate in the call extended to researchers working in 24 countries that are involved in HERA.​

HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) promotes cross-border cooperation to boost the humanities at national and European level. The SNSF is a partner of HERA and this was its second participation in a large joint programme.

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