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Workshop Program

Theory Masterclass


The Transition Workshop is divided into two parts:


4 sessions

coherent knowledge in the form of lectures and seminars.


two-week workshop

invites to join the group work on a case study in Geneva.

Theory Masterclass

The ThoryMasterclass includes80 heures of courses et seminars by renowed experts in: climate change, , biodiversity, resources, energy, water management, food systems, psychology, sociology, economics, demography, architecture, urban planning, regional planning, landscape, and more.


The courses and seminars are organized into four sessions taking place in Geneva at the FBA premises. :

  1. Challenges of the ecological transition
  2. Parameters & Dimensions
  3. The Human Factor
  4. The Building Factor


Découvrez le programme enrichissant de notre module Theory Masterclass. Pour vous immerger pleinement et participer à l'ensemble des cours proposés, cliquez sur ce lien pour vous inscrire.
Si vous préférez, il est également possible de s'inscrire à des sessions spécifiques ou de choisir des cours individuels selon vos intérêts et besoins.

1. Introduction : The challenge of the transition project

15 Feb. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Panos Mantziaras
What went wrong in the previous decades? How did we arrive at this unprecedented climate change emergency? What was, is and will be the role of the disciplines of spatial transformation (architecture, urban planning, landscape design) and related disciplines (environmental engineering, sociology, economics, etc.) in the project of the Ecological Transition. An introduction to the civilisational challenges that lie ahead.
15 Feb. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Panos Mantziaras
Information to come
15 Feb. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Dominique Bourg
The idea is to provide an overview of global challenges with three main entries: climate change, the collapse of biodiversity, especially arthropods, and a state of resources with some key benchmarks. We will also address the democratic, social and cultural context within which responses to the challenges must be constructed. We will then sketch out some possible solutions by focusing on three main axes: the economy with the idea of permacircularity, democratic institutions, and finally the cultural shift that is currently taking place.
15 Feb. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Martine Rebetez
Information to come
16 Feb. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Marjolein Visser
Architects, urbanists, engineers and even landscape designers are trained to focus on building the places and spaces we live in, thus externalizing key aspects dealing with agriculture, ecology and food. So urbanisation typically ignores food needs and disables food growing. The first ambition of this workshop is to introduce a number of universal principles and concepts comings from systems ecology applied to agriculture and our agrarian past, present and future. While doing this, a wealth of further readings will be suggested to indeed further feed a food-enabling urbanism. The second ambition is to give practical hints for personal and collective regrounding toward genuine “food care” overall. Taken together, these elements should unlock fresh pathways to tackle our common 21st century challenges, through the prism of food.
16 Feb. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Carmen De Jong
Water resources are the essential for humanity. Today major challenges concerning water resources include the identification of the spatial and temporal dynamics of water resource availability and how this is impacted by climate change and anthropogenic pressure. Vulnerability and resilience of water resources depends on their geographic context from mountains to plains, across arid to humid climates and the extent of impact by water abstraction. The course spans these general themes and terminates with a special focus on the Greater Geneva Region. This will include the role of water supply from Lake Geneva and its surrounding glaciers, impacts of climate change such as severe glacier retreat, heatwaves and droughts and groundwater lowering. The course ends with perspectives on responsible water management.
16 Feb. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Mathis Wackernagel
Our economies are doing Bernie Madoff pyramid schemes with the planet (we are taking the resources of the future to pay for the present). As a result, humanity’s demand on nature today exceeds what Earth can replenish, eroding our natural capital and jeopardizing future regeneration of resources. Like any such system, this one, if not followed, can only lead to collapse. Such a catastrophe would destroy much of the progress of mankind.
16 Feb. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Sylvain Ferretti
17 Feb. 2024, 09:00 – 13:00 | Program
Review session of the introductory part of the Theory Masterclass and visit to the neighborhood selected for the Design Studio.Edition 2024: sensitive visit of the town of Versoix.

2. Parameters and dimensions

14 Mar. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Panos Mantziaras
Info to come
14 Mar. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Martin Schlaepfer
In this lecture we will cover different approaches to ensuring that biodiversity and climate related concerns are integrated into projects and plans. First, we will discuss theoretical notions such as negative externalities and telescoping that are particularly relevant in developed cities such as Geneva. Then, we will cover different visions of sustainability, existing targets (for both climate and biodiversity), possible pathways to reach these targets, and indicators that measure progress. Finally, we look at existing tools that can mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services.
14 Mar. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Gregory Giuliani
The Swiss Data Cube is a new digital technology for efficiently organizing Earth observation data (in particular satellite data) by gathering all satellite images in space and time for a given period and a specific region. Switzerland is the second country in the world to have a “data cube” after Australia. There are numerous possibilities for analyzing this standardized data and for applications, particularly in monitoring the evolution of the territory in order to anticipate the future. In addition, the algorithms developed on this platform are shared and can be reused for various projects. In this presentation, we will explain how this technology is used to help decision-makers better understand environmental issues (and in particular the impacts of climate change) . Thus ideally descision-makers can make decisions based on evidence.
14 Mar. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Alexandre Hedjazi
The confrontation with the climate emergency and with the project of a zero-carbon society requires a multiple approach, both highly technological and very attentive to the lessons that nature has to offer. This intervention will focus on a precise and imaginative understanding of the tricks, tools and methods that systematic observation of biological systems can reveal to us.
15 Mar. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | François Gemenne
Our entry into the Anthropocene, this new geological epoch which follows the Holocene, and in which humans are the main forces of change on the planet, requires a profound renewal of the social sciences, and geopolitics is primarily concerned by this revolution. It is now becoming impossible to distinguish between the Earth and the world, which would only be the political and social organization of the planet.For a long time, environmental issues were kept out of politics: the Earth was ruled by physical and biological laws, while the world was ruled by political and economic laws. This separation has notably led to the current ecological crisis, which has made many geologists say that we have now changed geological epochs. In the Anthropocene, the laws of nature overtook those of human history and geography.And this transformation of human relations with the Earth requires, in order to think about this new Earth, to invent a new geopolitics, or – to use an expression of Bruno Latour – a Gaïapolitics: literally, an Earth policy.
15 Mar. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Anthony Lehmann
In this course, we explore the evolution of the concept of Ecosystem Services highlighted in the 2005 UN report entitled “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment” which led to the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) ten years later. We will analyse the data and tools used to quantify and map these services, and we will examine the limitations of this approach when addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This reflection will lead us to the concept of the Nexus formed by the different SDGs and their dependence on services provided by nature.
15 Mar. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Pierre Hollmuller
Energy is omnipresent, in the form of the most various demands, which can be satisfied from diverse resources, through a myriad of transformers allowing extraction, transport, storage and adaptation to the desired use. During this conference we will present the basic concepts and challenges for understanding the energy system as a whole, with a focus on the domain of buildings (which represents a good 40% of the demand of our societies). Within this framework, we will discuss the challenges related to renewable energies (decarbonization) as well as the decrease in demand (efficiency, sobriety).
15 Mar. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Christian Arnsperger
The social metabolism of our capitalist industrial economies is strictly unsustainable. Post-growth now constitutes the essential horizon of our time. We must imagine other forms of economy – or rather, we must finally apply the knowledge that we already have, and that a series of actors in our societies persist in ignoring or distorting. Short-term opportunism and the structural injustice of extractive capitalism combine with existential fears of finitude and death to keep our political and economic elites, but also the majority of citizens, in denial of the necessities of life. the decrease. Based on the approach based on socio-ecological metabolisms, and in particular invoking the imagination of the “solarpunk” movement while drawing inspiration from the socio-economic implications of “terror management theory”, we will reflect on the obstacles and fears which currently block the ecological transition and we will explore ways out of these blockages.
16 Mar. 2024, 09:00 – 13:00 | Program
Review session for the second part of the Theory Masterclass

3. The human factor

02 May. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Tobias Brosch
Developing a more sustainable way of life is one of the most urgent tasks facing our planet and its inhabitants. While the majority of people are now aware of such issues, such as climate change or biodiversity loss, too little is being done to translate this knowledge into concrete and sustainable action. To promote the necessary behavior changes, research is studying the determinants of sustainable behavior, and policymakers have started to apply behavioral knowledge to develop new intervention strategies. In this presentation, we will discuss the most recent psychological knowledge about the factors that can motivate people to take sustainable actions or that can hinder those actions. Different intervention strategies aimed at promoting sustainable action, such as information provision, motivational approaches and “nudges” will be presented and discussed.
02 May. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Claudia R. Binder
Information to come
02 May. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Sonia Lavadinho
Infos à venir
02 May. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Vincent Kaufmann
03 May. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Michel Meyer
03 May. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Camille Gilloots
In 2021 and within the framework of the PACTE Grand Genève project, the Franco-Swiss territory has adopted a strategy for it's ecological transition, inspired by the Doughnut Theory of the economist Kate Raworth (2017). This intervention will present this tool in the form of a diagnosis of the territory with regard to global ecological and social issues. Then, the Doughnut will be discussed as a compass to guide spatial planning policies. 
03 May. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Graham Alabaster
Coming soon
03 May. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Dirk Sijmons
Mobilis in Mobile is a lecture about the question how we find guiding principles for policy and design with the wicked environmental problems of the Anthropocene. Four different worldviews, and the way they influence the perspectives for action. Next to these worldview the lecture also deals with the professional niches we could choose. Combining these two formative elements offers at least sixteen different positions a reflective practitioner could use to confront the challenges of the Age of Mankind.
04 May. 2024, 09:00 – 13:00 | Program
Coordination session about the third part of the Theory Masterclass.

4. The building factor

06 Jun. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Peter Droege
Our quest is the establishment of a design culture that has the healing, sustenance of the planet’s life support capacity as its very aim. This vision is still Utopian to some, but has become reality for many others. The four enabling realms of regenerative design, technology, finance and planning inform this intensive session – crafting our collective habitat while working to support planetary habitability. This session encompasses all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and pursues RCP 0 and SSP 1. These are the hallmarks of the Liechtenstein Institute for Strategic Development’s teaching and practice:;;
06 Jun. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Paola Viganò
The ecological transition through urban planning is a challenge that seems to be structural today in the way of engaging matter, flows and resources (including human ones) on a large scale. An in-depth understanding of the actors' issues, and a selection of research and projects undertaken within the Habitat Research Center, often gathered under the term Horizontal Metropolis in several European sites (Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, etc.) will be presented and discussed with the participants.
06 Jun. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Andrea Gritti
A detailed analysis of the architectural theories and projects that contributed to the construction of cities and landscapes in the 20th century reveals two opposing tensions: on the one hand, the choice to support the economic exploitation of natural resources; on the other hand, the refusal to do so in the name of an early ecological awareness. These two tendencies not only manifested themselves as contrasts between different professional groups and cultural movements, but even as sometimes indistinguishable parts of the biography of the same author. In the face of these ambivalences, excavating the vestiges of modernity is now more necessary than ever to reinvest the capital that architectural theories and projects have accumulated along the complex path of industrial society.
06 Jun. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | Winy Maas
In this era of climate change, we need hope and action. Urbanism can show solutions for replacing our fossil fueled world into carbon positive and more locally oriented regions. In Luxembourg in Transition we discovered how the beauty of countryside can become future, how a new spirit in villages, plains and valleys the countryside can change and become carbon positive. Can the approach for Luxembourg become a template for Europe?
07 Jun. 2024, 09:00 – 11:00 | Corentin Fivet
Information to come
07 Jun. 2024, 11:00 – 13:00 | Duncan Baker-Brown
In the effort to produce a decarbonising city, the use of grey energy integrated into the material already used to build it is an indispensable method. We will see how this challenge can be approached through examples leading to the design of a new construction economy.
07 Jun. 2024, 14:00 – 16:00 | Sarah Barth
The climate crisis and the drastic loss of biodiversity are the most serious problems of our time. The construction industry is responsible for a major part of the man-made climate change. For us, as architects, this means that we have the possibility, and even the obligation, to make a difference for the future generations by changing our practices. Sustainability has to become an important criteria in the everyday decision-making of architects. This results in completely new draft and design concepts.
07 Jun. 2024, 16:00 – 18:00 | René Longet
The case of Greater Geneva clearly illustrates the theme of the metropolis effect, coupled in the Geneva case with the border effect. Historically Geneva, due to the rupture introduced by Calvinism in the 16th century, was disinterested in its hinterland and prioritized its interest in the international (international GE). The result today is an unbalanced urban planning but also economic structure, in fact for more than a third of jobs in Geneva, the workers do not live in the territory but in that of a neighboring country. The coordination bodies that have been gradually set up since 1973 are little known, with overlapping and sectoral responsibilities. There is little regional awareness, and if each person pursues their own interest – it is very advantageous, whatever their nationality, to be paid in Switzerland and live in France – the result is general disorder, excellent further contradicted by the supposed wisdom of the “invisible hand”. Not only is the governance of Greater Geneva dispersed and insufficient, and the political structures of the two countries concerned are quite different. But the common vision of a common future is struggling to be constructed. The various areas experience very different degrees of coordination: training, health, economic promotion, housing, mobility, agriculture, biodiversity, energy... some without any consultation, others relatively well coordinated. An attempt at common foresight can be found in the work around MTB 2050, a cross-border territorial vision, in progress, and also in various studies, particularly on the flow of materials (circular economy). But the distortions of the metropolis effect are dominant today and condemn public policies to deal with the most urgent, to the detriment of the ecological, economic and social balance of the territory. It is now a matter of analyzing the positions of the various categories of actors...
08 Jun. 2024, 09:00 – 13:00 | Program
Final coordination session

Design Studio

Regenerative city
Biosourced architecture

Geneva offers an exquisite natural, social and cultural setting, as much as a unique international nexus for environmental advocacy. Within it, global governance bodies and experts, such as the UN, UNEP, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, and WMO convene to shape policies for sustainable development. Simultaneously, cantonal and communal authorities spearhead large-scale strategies and innovative projects.

The Design Studio, second module of the Transition Workshop, offers an unparalleled opportunity to hone your skills at this dynamic convergence of personalities, strategies, and tactics.

Over two intense weeks, instructors and participants in the Design Studio craft ecological transition scenarios based on case studies situated in collaboration with the Canton of Geneva. The process is enriched through lectures, interviews, site visits, research, and collaborative design efforts. A pre-jury evaluation takes place at the end of the first week, followed by a final presentation before a jury comprising stakeholder representatives and professionals in urban ecological transition. Proposed scenarios materialize in various forms:

  • Imaging techniques (manual, technical, CAD),
  • Design of demonstrators integrated into the general masterplan,
  • Speechwriting and Storytelling,
  • Animations and simulations.

The output of the Design Studio is showcased at the start of the following academic year during the Geneva Seminar, the annual public event of the FBA, and in the publication of a Recommendations Handout for stakeholders.

Design Studio 2024 | 1st to 12th July
Ecological Densities II

Urban areas face today a dual challenge: the pressure of demographic growth from incoming populations and the imperative to anticipate future climatic conditions, necessitating the development of resilience strategies.

This dual challenge calls for integrated urban foresight and architecture projects that will:

a. preserve the quality of life,
b. foster the presence of nature,
c. extend collective cohesion.

The municipality of Versoix presents a compelling case to the Transition Workshop, offering a study of the feasibility of these three-fold solutions. Situated between lake and mountain, with communal, cantonal, and national borders, amidst aircraft noise and adjacent to major road networks, the municipality seeks to chart a new course to meet the needs of its residents.

Bioclimatic design, the use of recycled and bio-sourced materials, and urban metabolism will form the core of new urban and architectural projects, building upon the methodology established within the Transition Workshop coined under the term Ecological Densities.


Explore past Design Studios where Transition Fellows engaged in similar endeavors.