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Oerlikon Declaration

The "No Cost Housing Conference" culminated in a joint "Oerlikon Declaration" on housing for all that was prepared by participants in advance of the Habitat III conference in Quito, 2016. Download the "Oerlikon Declaration" here (PDF, 3.3 MB).

Event Summary

No Cost Housing Conference

30th June - 1st July 2016, ETH Zurich, ONA Oerlikon

As the world urbanises, city populations grow and rising housing costs make it harder for low-income people to afford homes. Slums, congestion and long commutes have become the accepted reality in cities that are fragmented in wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, a phenomenon that produces asymmetric societies and is in urgent need for alternative paradigms.

We must imagine today what housing can be in an increasingly urban world; contested resources offer a taxonomy that responds not only to conditions resulting from incremental growth, but also to the needs of hundreds of thousands of poor citizens and refugees in recent years. Some of these contemporary challenges raise serious doubts about our capacity to provide appropriate housing solutions under the standards that we have set ourselves for housing. What does housing mean in an urbanising world? What practical solutions do exist? How can we bring back affordable housing to the city centers?  Does low-cost housing mean low quality? Who can contribute what to answer some of the most relevant questions?

The No Cost Housing Conference is hosted and organized by the ETH Wohnforum—ETH CASE at the ONA Building of ETH Zurich in Zurich-Oerlikon. The two-day conference is developed in collaboration with the Hub on Informal Urbanism of UNI (UN-Habitat’s Partnership with Universities Worldwide). It is supported by the ISTP (Institute of Science, Technology and Policy), D-ARCH (Faculty of Architecture of ETH Zurich, Chair of Architecture and Urban Design, Profs. Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner) and NSL (Network City and Landscape). The NSL Doctoral Colloquium is included in the Thematic Paper Sessions on the second conference day. The conference's results and insights will lead to a joint statement, submitted to the executive office in preparation of Habitat III in Quito (17.—20. October).



The No Cost Housing Conference at the ETH Zurich is structured in two parts. On the first conference day, academics and practitioners present and discuss their projects in a plenary session with specialists and the audience. On day two, the conference will be held in different Thematic Paper Sessions, where researchers present their projects. Every presentation is followed by discussions and feedbacks from the experts and the audience. The Thematic Paper Sessions include the NSL Doctoral Colloquium.

Key Dates

Abstract submission: 15th March (extended!)

Acceptance notice: 30th March

Full paper submission: 30th May

Conference: 30 June - 1 July 2016, ETH Zurich, ONA Oerlikon, Switzerland

Final paper submission: 1st August


Who should attend?

The programming is strongly oriented toward practicing professionals and academics working on and interested in informal/affordable/low and no cost housing approaches to research, design and construction processes.


Conference keynotes, discussions, thematic sessions and tours will be held in English.​​


Need further details?

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