Stadtgeiss (Engl. City goat) is an association and a garden at Seebach train station in Zürich, located just a few meters and a step over the tracks away from the ONA building and our Design in Dialogue Lab. Longing for fresh air and regeneration, we discovered the Stadtgeiss garden during NEWROPE Studio Tirana, where the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 drove us outside our lab in search of alternative places to gather.
Biologist, specialist in environmental education, illustrator and author Julia Hofstetter is the initiator and board member of the Stadtgeiss association. She holds the lease of the one hectare large site, which used to serve as a gravel pit of the Department of Water Supply of the City of Zürich.
Julia Hofstetter at the Stadtgeiss garden, giving instructions on how to use scythes.
The gate to the meadow, which includes vegetable gardens, playgrounds, studio spaces, accommodation and a steep outlet for the seven lucky Stiefelgeiss ('Booted goats' in English, due to the distinct colours of their legs) is always open. In addition to courses in Environmental Education for adults and children, the place, operated and maintained by volunteers, invites anyone to be as mindful, playful and open towards nature and biodiversity in the city, as its seven main (non-human) inhabitants.
As a follow up of their project as part of Studio Piraeus, two students Lea Andermatt and Nadina Dollie spent one semester renovating an old caravan in dialogue with the members of the Stadtgeiss association. Their project will be featured in the Mock-up exhibition at the Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel. It is an important step towards the ambition of opening up ONA and entering fruitful collaborations between the Design in Dialogue Lab, its direct surroundings and existing communities in the neighbourhood.