The «Zurich International» newsletter brings you all the latest information from other cities and reports on how the various international relations which the City of Zurich maintains are developing
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Newsletter «Zurich International»

November 2017
The «Zurich International» newsletter brings you all the latest information from other cities and reports on how the various international relations which the City of Zurich maintains are developing. Please feel free to recommend the newsletter to your colleagues. 

«Zürich meets Hong Kong» Festival a success
From left: Reto Renggli, Swiss Consul General in Hong Kong, Corine Mauch, Mayor of the City of Zurich, Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, Carmen Walker Späh, councillor for the Canton of Zurich, Guglielmo Brentel, President of Zurich Tourist Board (Photo: Chi-wai Cheung)

«Zürich meets Hong Kong – A Festival of Two Cities» was held from 21 – 29 October 2017, and Zurich’s presence in Hong Kong attracted a large number of interested visitors. With more than 4000 participants at over 30 events and 50,000 visitors to the Festival Hub and the Swiss Design Market, there was a host of opportunities to expand and strengthen the economic, scientific and cultural exchanges between the two cities. There was also plenty of highly positive feedback from the public.

«Zürich meets Hong Kong» was a way for the City to increase the many contacts it already has with the special administrative region. On a political level, there was an exchange with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam and Secretary of Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang. Mr. Yang also opened the conference on the future of mobility and energy systems in smart cities, where the City of Zurich’s delegation, headed by Mayor Corine Mauch, had the chance to talk with representatives of the Hong Kong government, stakeholders from start-ups and established companies and academics from both cities. The Zurich delegation also met with the Hong Kong Housing Authority on the subject of social housing, and with various representatives of the Swiss economy as part of the «Business Talks» section, and at a visit of telecommunications giant Huawei in Shenzhen.

The event was hosted by the City and Canton of Zurich, Zurich Tourism, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, the University of Zurich, the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), together with the Consulate General of Switzerland in Hong Kong.

Stefan Ege, Urban Development, Department of the Mayor

Zurich and Kunming – 35 years as partner cities
Opening of the Otto Meister-exhibition in the Kunming Museum by Anna Schindler, Director of Urban Development of the City of Zurich

An exhibition on Zurich engineer Otto Meister – who worked from 1903 to 1909 on the Chinese part of the Yunnan-Vietnam railway until its completion – was opened at the Kunming Museum on 29 October 2017. Meister was most likely the first person from Zurich ever to set foot in Kunming, and was part of one of the most ambitious and spectacular railway projects of the 20th century. The line, which measured 855 kilometres in total and stretched from Lao Cai in Vietnam to Kunming, had 158 tunnels and over 173 bridges –including the famous «Human Bridge» – is rightly considered to have played a pioneering role in history. It was a masterpiece of engineering that took just 10 years to build, and still exists today, although only parts of it are now in use.

The exhibition, which uses items from the engineer’s extensive estate, was designed and organised with a great deal of passion, and made possible by Meister’s grand-daughter Sylvia Meister and her partner, photographer Giorgio Hoch. It is also one of the focal points of the 35th anniversary of the city partnership between Zurich and Kunming. It provides an insight not only into Meister’s work in Yunnan, but also into his life, travels and work in other parts of China. The photographs which Meister took throughout his travels – making him one of the first people to catalogue his journey and work in this way – also provide the visitor with impressions of a time in the past, when Kunming was practically still a village and long before it had eight million inhabitants. The exhibition will move from Kunming to Zurich, at a date and location still to be defined.

Anna Schindler, Urban Development, Department of the Mayor

«An Inclusive Housing Market»
New mixed housing estate in the Poblenou district of Barcelona

Around 30 experts from 12 cities – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bonn, Brno, Dublin, Ghent, Lisbon, London, Ljubljana, Paris, Vienna and Zurich – met on 14 and 15 November in Barcelona for a meeting of the Eurocities Working Group Housing. The meeting on this occasion was a side event at the «Smart City Expo 2017». The main theme of the meeting was «Smart housing in a smart city», with the subjects of «The state of housing in the EU», «Rent stabilization measures in cities» and «The changing landscape of housing governance: municipal responses» being on the table, as well as discussions on specific coordination measures for housing on an overall European level.

It soon became clear from the presentations that the public sector has an enormous influence on the housing policies of some cities (for example in Vienna and Amsterdam), yet far less on others – such as Barcelona, where it is just being developed, and London, where the environment has been highly deregulated, leaving little scope for such influence. Following on from the meeting, the experts visited a new mixed housing estate in the Poblenou district of Barcelona that is almost now fully built, where traditional apartments are available for rent for middle-income earners as well as temporary accommodation for those who were recently homeless.

Common issues for the cities included high demand for housing, which is making it increasingly difficult for the lower and middle-income bracket to find an affordable place to live, and additional markets that are often driven by tourism, such as AirBnB, which make available accommodation even more scarce. Some cities such as Paris have already passed new legislation to govern this particular situation. Zurich is certainly not alone in its housing concerns, and indeed plenty of other cities are facing wider and more pressing issues.
Alex Martinovits, Urban Development, Department of the Mayor

Urban Traffic Programme «Stadtverkehr 2025» to serve as a catalyst for traffic planning in Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya station is an important railway hub to Tokyo

6 November saw a delegation of municipal administrators from Utsunomiya – a city in the prefecture of Tochigi with some 500,000 inhabitants, around 100 kilometres north of Tokyo – visit the Civil Engineering department of the City of Zurich. Utsunomiya is becoming increasingly popular as a place for people to live and then commute on a daily basis into Tokyo, with the result that the population is steadily rising, as are the challenges in terms of urban development and traffic planning. Utsunomiya is also set to be a host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but is limited in terms of usable public space, in particular for parking, where availability is currently below satisfactory levels. The city is therefore looking to develop sustainable urban-focused strategies for mobility and to leverage public areas and public transport, as well as encouraging more people to walk and cycle. A specialist from the Civil Engineering Office gave the delegation an overview of the political and historical development of transport in Zurich as well as an insight into the Urban Traffic Programme «Stadtverkehr 2025». This was an opportunity to highlight some of the reasons behind Zurich’s success in terms of high levels of quality of life in public spaces, for example the efficient transport system and the quality of stay.

Link to the website of the City of Utsunomiya

René Huber, Civil Engineering Office, Civil Engineering and Waste Management Department

Zurich Youth Guitar Ensemble on tour in East Germany
The Zurich Youth Guitar Ensemble in Dresden

Elite ensemble from the Zurich Music School and Conservatory (MKZ) exploring new horizons with the classical guitar

The Zurich Youth Guitar Ensemble, conducted by Jens Stibal, has been on its fifth tour abroad, having been invited to play five concerts by the Youth Music Schools in Meissen and Leipzig, the Dresden Musical High School, and the parishes of Nossen and Walda. After an intensive period of rehearsal, the ensemble performed at a concert given by the Dresden Musical High School together with the Dresden Music School in the Hellerau workshop in Dresden that is steeped in tradition. The blend of classical music and jazz gave an insight into another world and proved particularly enriching for the musicians.

Over the following days, the young guitarists performed in other venues, including the church in Walda which dates back to 1382, and with all proceeds from the concert going to help restore the building to its original state. Away from the performances, there was plenty of time for sight-seeing and meeting with the locals. The last of the five concerts was held in the Johann Sebastian Bach hall of the Music School in Leipzig, and of course the young musicians did not miss out on the chance to pay homage to the Thomaskirche – the church where Bach was musical director.
Rainer Fröhlich, School and Sports department


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