„Sketchcity“ is part of the Erasmus+ project „impetus“

„impetus“ is supported by the Foundation for the Development of the European Educational System. The project is part of the cooperation for innovation and exchange of best practices. 

It is a KA203 Project: Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education in Innovation.



Sketch&Draw is a toolset and sketching technique for the visualization of ideas and future-oriented solutions. Students, stakeholders and planning experts use it to jointly generate innovative solution approaches for resilient and sustainable urban development. It forms the basis for the „impetus“ project.

The project starts in September 2019 and will run for 36 months.

„impetus“ is the acronym for Innovative measurement tool towards urban environmental awareness.

Through visual idea design, diverse urban needs in a city can be made visible and thus flow directly into the complex urban development and its planning. The spectrum ranges from „good ideas“ to comprehensive portfolios with concrete solutions. Citizens should thus be included in the planning processes and the diverse approaches to solutions coordinated by online systems, made transparently and access to influential data material supported. This is exactly where Sketch&Draw comes in: the urban population or those directly affected by specific urban development processes sketch out imaginative solutions and planning criteria. The sketch of an idea can outline the future and the necessary images of a possible future and thus support innovative solutions. In the best case, it can even create a future-relevant design or concrete solutions for complex problems. In European cities, the threats of climate change are crucial for urban development and human security. Although cities are increasingly experiencing new approaches to local adaptation planning, there are still significant barriers and limits, such as:

  • Limited availability of up-to-date data on local conditions.
  • Lack of awareness and civic attitudes of ignorance of climate change and its impact on basic well-being and local conditions in our streets and neighbourhoods, lack of public interest, and finally:
  • The lack of interdisciplinary approaches and public action to solve local problems, and often the inability to choose optimal solutions from a set of alternative measures.

These limits could be overcome by introducing an extended holistic, interdisciplinary approach. This consists of a combination of technical and scientific expertise, combined with the influence of trends in art & design and the inclusion of the social sciences. This combination is complemented by specific IT solutions, which are processed in the form of websites, mobile apps and publications and communicated to a broad audience by means of storytelling. The „impetus“ project takes a new approach, which has emerged from the long cooperation with the project partners and numerous workshops with students. One focus is the urgent effects of climate change on the population and urgent questions of the resilience of the urban living space. The „impetus“ project is based on a holistic approach that enables an analysis of weaknesses, supports the decision-making process, improves public participation and improves adaptation planning. The methodology applied is used for both educational and research purposes.


Who are the project partners?

Technical University of Gdansk, Poland

University, Groningen, Netherlands

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

University of Coimbra, Portugal

Graubünden University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland

University of Klagenfurt, Austria


The aim of this project is to


  1. to sensitise the target groups to climate-related weaknesses and challenges at a local level;
  1. integrating the challenges of climate change into the curricula of different faculties and disciplines of EU universities and in Switzerland in order to raise awareness and provide students and staff with innovative methods combining social, technical and visual methods to collect data on climate vulnerabilities;
  1. building a sustainable relationship and continuing active international cooperation between partners.



The project is aimed at the following target groups:


  1. students, researchers, lecturers in water management, civil and environmental engineering, urban planning, transport planning, architecture, art and communication and social sciences;
  1. civil servants and decision-makers
  1. experts, specialists, practitioners involved in extensive adaptation or mitigation measures;
  1. citizens of urban areas.


The project is also supported by the international group of associated partners who work as an advisory board with the project partners, but also expect the project results to implement their activities and support the dissemination of the project results.

In terms of project management and results, there are several important exchange programmes: The project will be further developed in seven transnational project meetings. The scientific results will be written in a team and made available under Creative Commons. The knowledge will be implemented in all five participating countries in six multiplier events. Learning, teaching and training activities will be carried out at all participating universities.


What role does Switzerland play in partnership with the EU project?

Strategic partnerships are supported in order to promote innovation in the Swiss education system at the European level through international cooperation, knowledge exchange and competence sharing. Moreover, it is not only the one-sided import of knowledge that is decisive but also the partnerships that are based on the bilateral direct exchange of knowledge. Switzerland’s role as a fully-fledged partner in this „Erasmus+“ project is given by the special feature of Sketch&Draw, a technique for sketching ideas, which has taken on a pioneering role in this respect. Sketching with technology & tools from Sketch&Draw thus forms the basis for the development of the „impetus“ project.


Further development of the Sketchcity project

Sketchcity is the name of an „Urban Sketching Study Week“ held since 2015 by the two Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences Graubünden and Bern on the subject of sustainability in the city.

The challenge of Sketchcity is to outline ideas for the future city. Since 2016, over 400 students have been involved in this project and have created idea portfolios. This resulted in a joint project with the University of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

For more than four years, around 100 students from Switzerland each year took part in the study week in the Netherlands to sketch idea and project portfolios for future urban development in workshops with urban planners, urbanists, citizens, artists and laypersons, while at the same time highlighting current topics and trends.

The great advantage of sketching is that it includes the option of projecting and depicting the future directly via images, making possible solution strategies accessible to all interested parties and complex issues easily understandable. Idea sketches are therefore a fundamental medium for the development of solution design and innovation processes. Together with the application of specific drawing and visualization software, they enable the condensation and plausibility checking of design and process strategies.

In recent years, intelligent technologies and the mobile lifestyle have posed new challenges for working, living. Furthermore, we have to face the rapid trend towards growing cities with increasing population density and diversity of city dwellers and their individual needs. The city is the place where we interact, communicate, move, share and participate. The city is constantly demanding new complex solutions that need to be mastered and, above all, first identified and sketched out. During the study weeks of Sketchcity, the students take care of the needs of the future city. They gather impressions of the advantages and disadvantages of a location and/or life situation. In this way, the process of perceiving the city in a more differentiated or diverse way begins. When sketching, you are obliged to take a closer look and also to take a slower look. Therefore one sees more of the challenges because the observation of people outlines their needs.

„The pencil“ asks more precisely where it should set the line to present the problem than words can do in such a direct way in many cases. Therefore, sketching helps to condense and visualize the solution approaches in iterative processes in order to show alternative solutions. Sketching is the most immediate tool to present, exchange and further develop ideas.


The Sketchcity Study Week, therefore, poses basic questions:

How is it possible to reach citizens to raise awareness of the consequences of urban planning?

How can lay people participate as citizens in the growth of the livable and lovable city in the coming decades?

Why and where can I see my future in the city? Is it possible to present my point of view on the future needs of the city?

Do urban planners benefit from the diversity of ideas directly from the general population (citizen science crowdsourcing)?

What does an urban future laboratory look like as an online platform, a laboratory for the exchange and development of urban projects?


What role does Sketchcity play in the Erasmus+ project?

The sketchcity Study Week was the original project to raise awareness of the future urban challenge and resilience issues, leading to the European „impetus“ project. The needs of the future city will be determined by climate change and therefore new solutions and strategies are required. The factors of climate change in relation to urban planning must be taken into account and supported by all. Since many of the students of the Bachelor’s programme in Multimedia Production will be working in the media, we have the opportunity to get into newspapers, radio, television and even corporate communications agencies to report on the project and its concerns. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are one of the foundations of sustainable education that every university has to teach. Building on the SDG’s, the students‘ work led to the following research questions:


  • How can lay awareness be created?
  • How can we explain that sustainable urban planning is an important need – not just a nice to have?
  • How can we explain that the benefits of urban planning lie in the health and quality of life of city dwellers?
  • How is the transfer of know-how from science to citizens and back?
  • How can awareness of sustainable and responsible behaviour be fruitful in mutual exchange with experts and interest groups?



What is Sketch&Draw?

Sketch&Draw is a technique with ten simple rules to learn how to sketch. Sketch&Draw is a quick drawing tool for visual purposes (also using electronic media and software tools). Multimedia producers and advertising planners sketch their projects, and architects and scientists use sketches as their immediate tool for presenting design and process strategies. Sketching has always played an important role in research. Initial ideas and designs were always made by hand and their role remains the same today. Sketching the idea is concise thinking. To represent thought in a sketch means to understand the underlying information or information architecture. Sketch work is not only required in abstract form, but also in the representation of the world around us.

And the most important thing: sketching can represent the future world.

Ideas must be visualized. Only then can they be understood and understood by others.

The sketch is the most immediate medium to show ideas because the sketch needs a minimum of time and nothing but a pencil and a sheet of paper. The sketch structures the complex focuses and still leaves the viewer room for his own ideas because there is nothing finished about a sketch. The sketch is the open gap, which is important for projections of one’s own ideas because it does not have anything finished in itself, that is decisive.

Sketch&Draw summarizes the most important rules for sketching.

Sketching is not only fundamental for artists, but in an adapted form also for science and communication. Sketch&Draw is a method of learning to sketch, reduced to the essentials. The theory works for the representation of all facts. Therefore this kind of sketching helps to learn the rules within a week. Sketching is like riding a bicycle: Once you can do it, you can do it forever.



What is Erasmus+?


„impetus“ is a three-year project within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.


  • Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. With a budget of €14.7 billion, more than 4 million Europeans are given the opportunity to study, train and gain experience abroad.
  • Erasmus+ provides opportunities for a wide range of organisations, including universities, education and training institutions, think tanks, research institutes and private companies.
  • Erasmus+ aims to contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, jobs, social justice and inclusion and to the objectives of ET2020, the EU’s strategic framework for education and training.
  • Erasmus+ also aims to promote the sustainable development of its partners in higher education and contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy.


  • Specific themes covered by the programme include:
  • Reducing unemployment, especially among young people
  • Promoting adult learning, in particular for new skills and competences required by the labour market.
  • Encouraging young people to participate in European democracy.
  • Supporting innovation, cooperation and reform
  • Reduction of premature school leaving
  • Promoting cooperation and mobility with the EU’s partner countries


Brief outlook


After the implementation of the Erasmus „impetus“ programme by 2022, we outline portfolios of ideas such as…


Cities that feel like cosy hoodies and offer shelter to all people, even in times of migration and climate adaptation.


Citizens, innovators and experts who work in Design Thinking workshops, develop ideas, dream and model buildings in the atmosphere of a future city laboratory, show city models, suggestions and ideas, where sustainable growth is at the forefront and the benefits are visually and haptically visible for all involved.


Companies that meet in this city of the future, where they want to use this creative drive and this power to find the necessary innovations.