E03 – Creating a Smart Code Catalog for Altstetten, Zurich

The term “code” derives from “caudex,” which was simultaneously the trunk of a tree and set of laws. It is one of several terms clustering around the idea of power being resident in a sacred tree at the center of a traditional village. A code, then, is etymologically and functionally the trunk around which a settlement arranges itself.

Patrick Pinnell | ‘SmartCode v9.2’


Submission till Midterm-Crit on Monday, Oct 31st 2011, 09:00 by uploading to the student server
– afp://schmitt-server.ethz.ch/schmitt-stud
– smb:\\schmitt-server.ethz.ch\schmitt-stud

Please submit separate .doc and .pdf documents of the SmartCode Survey sheets and a .zip file with your site visit photos.
Please mark each document with your names.
Naming scheme: E03_Name1Name2… .pdf


With this exercise we start our project work in the case study area of Altstetten, Zurich.
Your work will contribute to the project on Sustainable Urban Patterns (SUPat) within the transdisciplinary National Research Programme 65 (NRP65 ‘New Urban Quality’).

A Smart Code Catalog, as introduced in Lecture 2, will be the basis for investigations on the built environment and urban qualities of the chosen perimeter.
Combining your findings of this exercise with your procedural modeling skills earned in the CityEngine tutorials in exercise 1 and 2 you will be able to set up a first CityEngine model on a building scale in the upcoming exercise 4.

At the Midterm-Crit on Oct 31st you will present both your findings as well as your implementation in CityEngine.


Site Analysis Altstetten, Zurich (30 pts)

  • Form groups of 2-4 people and choose one of the 7 case study areas. The groups will be confirmed after the lecture on Oct 10th.
  • Do a site visit with your group to your case study area.
  • Document your findings in the two task sheets “SmartCode Survey” and “Identifying and Measuring of Urban Design Qualities”, make photos during your site visit. You will make several sheets for the different blocks in your case study area and for several places to measure the urban quality there.


Overview of the Case Study Area Altstetten, Zurich:
Case Study Area

SmartCode Survey sheets:
sheet 1 – SmartCode Survey: Analysis for Transect Zone
pdf-file, word-file
sheet 2 – Identifying and Measuring Urban Design Qualities
pdf-file, word-file

Example of a SmartCode Survey:
SmartCode – Analysis of a Transect Zone – Sub-Urban


further reading:

[1] Montgomery, John (1998)
Making a city: Urbanity, vitality and urban design
Journal of Urban Design 3: 1, 93-116
[2] Ewing, Reid and Handy, Susan (2009)
Measuring the Unmeasurable: Urban Design Qualities Related to Walkability
Journal of Urban Design, 14: 1, 65-84
[3] Clemente, Otto and Ewing, Reid (2009)
Measuring Urban Design Qualities: An Illustrated Field Manual
University of Maryland, prepared for the Active Living Research Programme
[4] Center for Applied Transect Studies (CATS)
SmartCode Version 9.2 and manual


Exercises will be graded. A not submitted exercise will be graded with “failed”.
Support requests by email iaurbansim@arch.ethz.ch are possible anytime.