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Architecture

Hall with wooden frame © ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

© ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

Nowhere in the world does the history of architecture harmonise so perfectly with modern constructions as in Austria. Architectural jewels from every era are practically everywhere across Austria. And there are also fine examples of contemporary architecture to take in. 

Content:

Tradition and Innovation

From Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos to Roland Rainer and the Vorarlberg School, through to the visionary Utopian architectural advances of Hans Hollein or Coop Himmelblau - the palette of definitive architectural creations in Austria is truly impressive.

Representative elements of Austrian construction culture include:

  • Building of communal housing in Vienna since 1919
  • The architectural development of the Alpine landscape
  • A regional construction culture based on skilled labour in the individual provinces

New building challenges, new construction methods as well as new technologies have strongly diversified the contemporary architecture scene. It is defined by a new generation who exhibit a wide spectrum of approaches. What they have in common is this: the continuity or discontinuance of historical techniques is consciously reflected and manifested in discrete autonomous approaches.

Sectors and Structure

In recent years there has been an increasing demand for high-quality architecture in Austria. There is a mix of many small and a few large architectural practices on offer in Austria.

There are three main groups based on company structure:

  • Classic architecture practices:
    Mostly represented by the middle generation of architects. Their main business areas are conception and planning, their specialisation covers all types of buildings.
  • Large practices:
    These are characterized by a large workforce as well as numerous partners. Acquisition and marketing are of key importance. They often offer complete packages ranging from construction advice to interior design.
  • Young practices:
    These are mostly unions between freelance partners, characterized by syndicates and cooperations. Often exteremely innovative and focussed on inter-disciplinary skills, in addition to architectural services they offer graphics, design and other creative services.

The online databases http://www.nextroom.at and http://www.austria-architects.com/en provide comprehensive information about the Austrian architecture scene. The young practices have formed an association for the representation of interests: IG Architektur (in German) .

Construction Industry

The Austrian construction industry is a significant economic factor in Austria - it has a gross production value of EUR 30 million and employs around a quarter of a million people.

The current boom is largely due to the accelerated infrastructure developments, including the station offensive from ÖBB, the building of the new stadium for the European Football Championship in 2008 and the extension of Vienna Airport. These measures will increase Austria's profile as an economic location and are the basis for the economic growth of tomorrow.

The platform www.leitbetriebe.at has a comprehensive online database of leading Austrian construction companies. Some of these also act as sponsors of contemporary architecture, such as Wienerberger Ziegelindustrie, Porr, Hazet, Eternit and Pro:Holz Austria.

Builders and Developers

Behind every building there is not only an architect, but also a construction engineer. The role of the builder has been recognised in Austria since 1967, by the awarding of the Builder's Prize - Bauherrenpreis (in German) .

There are many large property developers who make a significant contribution to the subsidising and commissioning of Austrian architecture, such as the BIG Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (in German) , Kallco (in German) and Mischek (in German) .

Heritage Preservation

Heritage preservation in Austria is a federal matter, whilst the regulation of the building industry (planning permission, protected areas etc.) comes under the competence of the local authorities and provinces. The central institution for protection assignment, restoration and financing is the Federal Heritage Office Bundesdenkmalamt (in German).

State heritage preservation in Austria goes back to the middle of the 19th century to the imperial commission "K.K. Central-Commission". The heritage preservation law was adopted in 1923 and is still in use today. The share of listed properties from the total building volume in Austria is currently around 2% - somewhat below the European average.

There are many associations and platforms concerned with the preservation and appreciation of structural cultural treasures including:

Urban planning and development

It is not only architecture, but also urban development that has a long tradition in Austria. In the middle of the 19th century the plans for the town regeneration programmes in Vienna already set an example for urban redevelopment in other European centres. The general regulation plan of Otto Wagner in 1892, along with his radically concentrated large city concept of 1911, turned out to be a forward-looking basis for a debate which still rages today.

In Austria the competence for state urban planning lies with the local authorities and provinces. The Austrian Land Use Planning Conference (ÖROK) was established as an establishment supported by the federation, provinces and boroughs. It has a purely advisory role.

You can find more information on the following sites:

Representation and Discourse

Representation of Interests


Independent Architecture Initiatives


Online Databases


Institutions


Festivals

Author:
Doris Rothauer / Büro für Transfer
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