Davos World Economic Forum

We all know Davos as the place where once a year world leaders, business executives and influential celebrities gather to discuss key issues shaping the future of our planet. Yet, besides institutional meetings and fancy cocktail parties, what is that really happens for a few days each January at this resort town nestled in the Swiss Alps landscape? It is only when you take a walk along the Promenade, one of two the main streets, that you actually realize the impact that exceptional events like this can have on small places such as Davos.

As if being immersed in a movie set, the city dramatically changes its urban appearance, its spatial characteristics, and its everyday activities to best suit the event’s needs and leverage opportunities.

Temporary buildings and pavilions sit in between (or even on top of) local stores and residencies. Pop-up structures take over portions of the Promenade’s public space. Facebook, for instance, builds next to the Kirchner Museum its own “house” ‒ a three-storey wooden structure. Corporate signs and advertising billboards cover storefronts and tall building facades at every corner. Ad-hoc infrastructures for security and media networks also contribute to the tangible morphing of Davos.

Although deep structural repercussions are difficult to decode and probably go beyond WEF, the city has been experiencing this paradox for years now: embracing the opportunities of hosting the most important “business festival” in the world, and at the same time paying the price for it.

Read more on Domus.

Typology: Research article
Location: Davos, Switzerland
Year: 2019
Client: Domus
Research, text and drawings: Stefano Andreani, Nada AlQallaf
Travel data analysis: Sebastian Birolini
Status: Published on Domus N. 1031


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