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In Switzerland, Everyone’s an Urban Planner

To reimagine its largest public space, the Swiss city of Lausanne organized a citywide consultation and workshop that asked: Just who is the public?
Workshop participants gather outside Lausanne's Palais de Rumine.
Workshop participants gather outside Lausanne's Palais de Rumine.Urbz

How could anyone mess up a space this impressive?

Lausanne’s Place de la Riponne, a grand square in the heart of Switzerland’s fourth-largest city, is the kind of historically significant, dramatically sited urban set piece that would likely be the tourist-thronged highlight of any North American city. Flanked on one side by the steroidally grandiose neo-Renaissance Palais de Rumine (the building in which Iraq’s borders were drawn up in 1923), the broad plaza stands at the foot of a hill stacked with layers of turrets and steeples, beyond which you can see snow-capped Alpine mountain peaks.