Institute for Urban Development and Infrastructure ISI

Geotechnics, infrastructure installations, mobility, and urban development: in collaboration with you, we create interdisciplinary solutions for future spatial developments.

Problems arising from societal and ecological developments – such as society’s rising mobility, urban sprawl, and climate change – call for new and interdisciplinary solutions. We focus on spatial development and large infrastructures projects, combining engineering concepts with architecture, the social sciences, and regulatory requirements to find spatial solutions. This holistic approach defines our institute, which employs urban planners, architects, engineers, geotechnical experts, and geologists. We work on issues related to geotechnics, civil engineering, natural dangers, road construction and traffic, as well as on urban questions, mobility, and the spatial development. Our research contributes to the safety and quality of life in both rural and urban areas. 

Our partners
Our partners include leading companies in the field of civil engineering, road and building construction, and geotechnics, as well as other engineering offices, insurers, builders, and public institutions. 

Our collaborators
This holistic approach defines our institute, which employs urban planners, architects, engineers, geotechnical experts, and geologists.

Our infrastructure
Our collaborators have a well equipped infrastructure at their disposal including modern software and facilities in the field of 3D-printing and geotechnics.  

Geotechnics and Natural Phenomena
We work for the long term preservation and the quality of our natural resources, such as soil and water. Working closely with our partners from industry, we develop processes and technologies for geotechnical constructions, such as retaining structures, pre-stressed and unstressed anchors, or pile and shallow foundations. Whenever possible, we prefer to use ecological methods when developing soil protection techniques. Our efforts to research and understand the basic science on rockfall, avalanches, landslides, or landslips enables us to design protective measures against the dangers of such natural phenomena. Thus, we contribute to protecting people, the built environment, and our natural resources from harmful natural phenomena.
Area of competence Geotechnics and Natural Phenomena 

Waste Water Management and Traffic
We develop methods and technologies for road building and traffic management, as well as for water supply and waste water management with the building infrastructure at the center. Our research topics include, for example, the utilisation of innovative surfaces and the use of geosynthetics in road building.

Our competence focuses on urban and real estate development and urban planning as well as questions of mobility. We work on issues related to integral spatial development of residential, work and lifestyles, as well as on multi-modal transportation. Energy and resource efficiency, environmental influences, and sustainable development in sociological, economic and ecological terms play an integral part in our work. We aim to develop instruments for analysis, planning, and management, enabling improved performance in planning and construction. We take into account the lifecycle in our built environment and deal with complexity in a methodical way.

In the framework of service contracts we provide product testing, planning services, experts’ reports and consultations for the economy and society. Our experts are equally at your disposal for further services such as feasibility studies as well as product and manufacturing optimization.
In the Institute for Urban Development and Infrastructure ISI we offer our services in the following areas:

Geotechnics and natural phenomena
Our specialists provide services and reports for private clients and for the public sector. The necessary standard tests both onsite as well as in the laboratory comply with the up-to-date standards and test specifications and are accredited for the most part. Furthermore, we are able to develop individual test procedures individually tailored to meet any unusual requirements.
Fact Sheet Geotechnics Field (in German)
Fact Sheet Geotechnics Laboratory (in German)

Area of competence Geotechnics and Natural Phenomena

Urban development and mobility
For planning and construction companies as well as property owners and the public sector we provide consulting and other services including monitoring of planning processes, strategies for spatial development, visualisation of urban and spatial processes to assist decision making, real estate management, evaluation of spatial potential, construction management services and energy-efficient architecture.

Area of competence Urban Development and Mobility

Project of the department geo-engineering and natural events

Maintenance of slopes
With improved, more cost-effective methods from bioengineering and geo-technology, draining measure were developed and tested to prevent the destructive movement of mass. Traditional methods were strategically combined with the most up-to-date expertise to achieve the best results possible.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Moorland caterpillar
The legally required conservation of moorland entails costly maintenance work. Yet the weight and the build of the maintenance vehicles used often exceed the soil’s carrying capacity. The resulting soil compaction leads to a worsening of infiltration and thus surface erosion.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Soft road shoulders of existing streets
According to the Water Protection Act of 1991, non-polluted waste water must, as much as possible, be discharged by infiltration. Only where there is no possibility of infiltration may the non-polluted wastewater be discharged directly into surface water. Against this background, the question arises as to the level of detrimental effects caused in the soft road shoulders by the infiltration of road runoff and the air movement of road dust.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Roof drainage
The extension of the settlement area has lead to an increasing sealing of the soil. Rainwater can no longer infiltrate naturally, which consequently leads to problems such as high precipitation peak runoff as well as low evaporation loss.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Pollutants in road wastewater
According to the Water Protection Act of 24 January 1991, wastewater is to discharge by infiltration whenever possible. If infiltration is not possible, wastewater is to be discharged into surface water. The environmentally hazardous substances – in particular those that are not retained during infiltration or absorbed by plants or bound in any way – must be pre-treated.
Fact Sheet (in German)

The erosion of lakeshores poses a real problem for many lakes of the Swiss plateau. Durable solid bank embankments are often used to combat the erosion of lakeshores.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Innovative flexible netting cover with non-tensioned pegs for steep slopes
When building roads and railway tracks in mountainous and hilly regions, cuts are often made into the terrain, leading to excessively steep and thus instable slopes.
Fact Sheet (in German)


Projects in the department of urban development und mobility

Quality of life in settlement structures
Living space, as the framework for the most diverse activities, plays a crucial part in people’s life. The fulfilment of the desires sought for in living spaces touches on profound human needs.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Infratourism – Binntal nature park
In tourism – as a driving force behind the movement of people and a medium of cultural transfers – the "touristic space" that is created between travellers, hosts and service providers plays a crucial role.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Post-densification study in Ostermundigen
On behalf of the municipality of Ostermundigen, a research group of the Bern University of Applied Sciences investigated the post-densification potential in the settlement area of Ostermundigen.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Development of a process model for the sustainable maintenance, restoration and redevelopment of real estate
The project aims to establish a standard for the processing steps in the sustainable evaluation of a building and its structural refurbishment. It will integrate aspects of sustainability whilst taking into account the existing norms and rules.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Monitor 2011
Monitor –  a system to formulate, pursue and visualise sustainable goals in building projects.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Infrastructure management in municipalities
The project "Infrastructure management in municipalities" should address the whole of communal infrastructure.
Fact Sheet (in German)

Visual analyses and mapping
in the framework of a research project of the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the spatial and atmospheric qualities in the border triangle between Germany, France and Switzerland and, on the Swiss side, in the adjoining Basle districts Kleinhüningen and Klybeck, are identified and visualised. The aim is to bring to light a cross-national identity and its interaction with the neighbouring perimeters of approach and with the entire vision of the development.
More information



Bern University of Applied Sciences
Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering
Institute for Urban Development and Infrastructure ISI 
Pestalozzistrasse 20 
P.O. box 1058
CH-3401 Burgdorf
T +41 34 426 41 76

Head of Institute
Prof. Martin Stolz
T +41 34 426 42 66