Blauen, Canton of Basel-Land, Switzerland

Blauen, with its some 700 inhabitants presents itself as a rural small municipality with extraordinarily high quality of life. It is located on a sun terrace in the Laufental with a unique view of the distinctive Jura heights and only 25 kilometres away from Basel. Oberfeld, a cultural landscape of fruit meadows that remained through the melioration process, is not only a well-designed transition between settlement area and landscape, but also an appreciated agricultural source which is actively included in agricultural production processes.

However, due to the small population increase within the administrative district, increasing overaging of the population and extraordinary burdens on the municipal budget, Blauen is faced with enormous challenges. Therefore, the municipal council decided on a “Forward Strategy” in 2012, aimed to win over families with strong taxable capacity as inhabitants. 20.000 new working places that are planned to be created within the prospering pharma- and biotechnology industry by 2020/25 serve as potential.

Within the framework of professionally guided SWOT analyses, broadly designed surveys and workshops, the most important problem areas of the municipality were identified within the last few years: restrictive zone regulations and fees as trig for constructional development; lack of connections to public local transport, doubts about the sustainability of the only local supplier as well as the lack of childcare facilities. These deficits were processed by project groups consisting of the civil community as well as the communal council. The subsequent concepts of solution were individually voted upon through basic democracy and an outstanding number of projects were started simultaneously. This led to high identification, a new dynamic and growing “courage for change”.

The liberalisation of construction restrictions led to the demolition of landmarked buildings in bad shape and allowed for new things to be developed. The new constructions in the architecturally valuable village core have to measure up to the cultural quality of their predecessors without imitating them. This also regards the soon-to-be-finished “Meeting Center” that is meant to become a hotspot with its modern village store and bistro, a “Dorfstübli”-hall and a daycare for children. The assisted living organised within the old school building are exemplary: the building side facing the village square maintains its original character while on the backside a modern addition allows for barrier free access and loggias. Older inhabitants appreciate the central location and the new comfort within old walls.

A regionally and nationally observed solution for the supplementation of local transport was developed in collaboration with the Postbus AG by establishing a communal car-sharing network. About 90 people offer their car-sharing options on a digital bus timetable to other inhabitants. The award for “child-friendly municipality” from UNICEF, received by Blauen as the first Swiss small municipality, led to additional media attention. Also noteworthy is the “youth council” initiated by the Community Council. Blauen follows the motto “Being Open” on several levels – most recently by lovingly welcoming Syrian refugees right at the core of the village.

Evaluated: 2016