Urbanistica Informazioni

ECTP-CEU member of the Davos Baukultur Alliance

Janet Askew e Adriano Bisello – UI n. 308 – marzo-aprile 2023     

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On January 2023, the ECTP-CEU found itself in an esteemed company to discuss vital issues so important to spatial planners. Ministers of 31 countries, along with civil society organisations (NGOs and IGOs) and major construction and real estate companies met in Davos (Switzerland) on the eve of the World Economic Forum. The ECTP-CEU sat alongside other IGOs, including ACE (architects), ICOMOS (ancient monuments), Europa Nostra (historic environments), IFLA (landscape architects), ICCROM (cultural heritage), INGO (group of all IGOs who are members of the Council of Europe), UN-Habitat and more. The president was able to liaise with European-wide organisations at the meeting and we were certainly promoting similar agendas.

What is the Davos Baukultur Alliance?

In 2018, the Swiss Government initiated the Davos Baukultur Alliance, to promote the German-language concept of Baukultur. The first meeting was held in 2018 in Davos alongside the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) when a declaration was made to encourage politicians, businesses, and civil society to work together to meet the objectives of Baukultur. The 2018 Declaration conforms to our own ECTP-CEU Charters of European Planning and Participatory Democracy. In short, it demands that culture in its widest possible definition, enables and drives economic, social, and environmental sustainability. It emphasises the common good; it embraces all human activity; it adopts an adaptive approach which builds on social cohesion and health and well-being; it requires high-quality design of cities, rural areas, infrastructure as well as individual buildings and spaces; and it promotes an inclusive and cohesive society, counteracts discrimination, and promotes civic awareness. Fundamentally, it is about ensuring high quality in the built and rural environments.

Whilst Baukultur is largely a German concept, one aim of the Davos Baukultur Alliance is to adopt this term for all European countries. Its objectives are fully compliant with the planners of Europe, represented by the ECTP-CEU.

The aim of the meeting in Davos was to influence the WEF to adopt the principles of the new Alliance, and to this end, the Chair of the WEF, Mr. Klaus Schwab attended the conference to hear of our ambitions. The participants signed the Founding Act of the Alliance which refers to the eight criteria for high-quality Baukultur: 1. Governance; 2. Functionality; 3. Environment; 4. Economy; 5. Diversity; 6. Context; 7. Sense of Place; and 8. Beauty. The fulfilment of these criteria is monitored by the Quality System which enables the assessment of Baukultur qualities of places.

For more information about the history and most recent decisions see the Davos Declaration (1)

The meeting was also honoured to welcome among its participants the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Culture. Miss. Anastasiia Bondar assisted the group in signing a statement condemning the military aggression by Russia against Ukraine. It also urged ministers of all countries to adopt the principles of Baukultur in the rebuilding of Ukraine after the war.

The ECTP-CEU will continue to represent the planners of Europe in the future activities of the Davos Baukultur Alliance.

It is worth mentioning that the Davos Baukultur Quality System, developed by the international partners is a major contribution to the well-known New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative launched by the European Commission. The aim of NEB is to connect in a creative and interdisciplinary way the principles of the Green Deal program with the living spaces of our cities. According to the NEB, the beautifulness of European places should be found in a mix of experiences and practices inspired by:

  • art and culture, where aesthetics goes hand in hand with functionality;
  • use of sustainable materials and responsible management of resources, in harmony with our planet;
  • inclusiveness of people, by fostering the dialogue across cultures, disciplines, genders, and ages.

Baukultur and more in general NEB, relate not only to buildings and the construction phase (architectural features, structural and landscape design and its material realisation) but even early they should be incorporated into the mindset of urban planners and inspire them in the definition of the development (or re-development) of neighbourhoods, districts, squares, public spaces, and landscape in general.

Speech of ECTP-CEU president at the meeting of the Davos Baukultur Alliance - 15th January 2023

The European Council of Spatial Planners (ECTP-CEU) represents planners across Europe. We are an umbrella organisation to which professional planners from the 46 countries of the Council of Europe are eligible to belong. We promote spatial planning as a distinct profession, and our Charter of European Planning (2) distinguishes planners by our commitment to and empowerment of citizens in the planning of their own communities.

Despite differences in our laws, planning systems, and approaches, the principles of good planning, like good governance, are universal. Many of the greatest issues we face are ubiquitous to all countries, and planning is crucial to their resolution. We recognise that we must work in multi-disciplinary teams to achieve the aims of something as ambitious as the Davos Baukultur Alliance. It is of utmost importance that the signatories to the Davos Alliance Founding Act unite behind its goals to persuade and influence all stakeholders of the benefits of high quality Baukultur in its widest definition.

We recognise that culture is the fourth pillar of sustainability. If culture is to embrace all human activity, our Charter of Participatory Democracy in Spatial Planning (3) must be given priority in policy-making and its implementation, building, and in conservation of heritage. The European Council of Spatial Planners advocates the protection of our European democratic aspirations and the participation of communities in public life at all levels - national, regional, and local - which is crucial to the legitimacy of decision-making. This assumes even greater importance with the war in Ukraine. We express our solidarity with all our Ukrainian colleagues, and we wholeheartedly support the joint statement on Ukraine from this conference.

The ECTP-CEU endorses the principles and objectives of the Founding Act of the Davos Baukultur Alliance and congratulates the Alliance for its efforts in producing this impressive document. By participating in the Davos Baukultur Alliance, we are calling upon the public and private sectors and civil society to work together to respond and adapt to the needs of all people to create an inclusive society in which everyone can expect a decent way of life in high quality built and natural environments.


  1. https://davosdeclaration2018.ch/en/dd;nav/index/davos-2023
  2. https://ectp-ceu.eu/2013-the-charter-of-european-planning
  3. https://ectp-ceu.eu/2015-european-charter-on-participatory-democracy