Competition for prefabricated house producers to design types of attached houses

A competition for the builders of prefabricated houses provided new design-types of attached houses. The results have been awarded and published to encourage the participants to enter this segment of the market.

Short Description





Construction and living is without doubt one of the key areas for sustainable development. The biggest part of the total energy consumption is used for heating buildings and for transport. Main producer of greenhouse gases are with 25% “transport” and also with 25% the industry. Those are followed by “energy”, producing 18% of the greenhouse gases, and “space heating”, causing 17% of greenhouse gases.

Houses with a bad ratio of outer surface to volume (A/V), e.g. detached standing alone one-family homes, use on the one hand with the same amount of insulation more heating energy than more dense construction forms (e.g. row houses or multi-storey houses), on the other hand those standing alone houses cause longer transport routes resulting in a higher energy input. Only through in time and trendsetting planning strategies new methods and ways for a better living quality with less energy consumption can be realized.

Construction and living is a central component of every culture, imbedded into the complex network of ecologic, economic and social aspects of our society. The one-family house exists in the heads of the people as an ideal form for living. The realization increasingly fails due to the lacking flexibility of this living facility. (see: Endbericht Haus der Zukunft Nr. 17/2002). The condensed respectively coupled housing style has an enormous decrease of consequences for the environment as a result. Better living quality and comfortableness through ecological building and living forms are connected with a lesser consumption of space.

In the context of this background the “Design competition for condensed construction of prefabricated houses” was initiated and carried out.


The use of construction space is increasing constantly and it is now time to act against this trend. A big part of the usage of soil is called upon by the construction of standing alone one-family homes. This freestanding (open) house building is to be assessed negatively not only because of ecological reasons, but also because of economic reasons (e.g. big parts of street and cable lengths). Finally the open construction of houses adds to the overall appearance of the landscape of a splinter development and is therefore, also seen from aesthetic reasons, to be assessed negatively.

Nonetheless, the demand for standing alone houses and/or wide building sites is big, and therefore municipality devote in general more space for open than for condensed building or construction of row houses.

The industry of prefabricated houses answers to this demand with types of houses for, almost only, standing alone houses.

Due to these reasons a “Design competition to the topic of condensed construction of prefabricated houses” was tendered within the scope of the program line “Housing of the Future”. This competition should provide different drafts for technical realization of such housing types. Moreover producers of prefabricated houses should be motivated to design types of houses for condensed building, which can then be incorporated in their offers. The results have been evaluated and then awarded a price in order to increase the motivation for market entries in this area.

Only producers of prefabricated houses were eligible for the competition. However, the participating companies were encouraged to employ architects or other experts for the design of their projects, if they did not have the necessary employees in their firm.

“Project owner” of the contest was the company “Sonnenplatz Großschönau”, where there would also be space for the construction of proto types in condensed building in the context of the exhibition area “Probewohnen”. At the beginning 14 companies of prefabricated housing signed letters of intents to support the challenge and so a vivid interest in the competition was manifested.

During the development of the drafts the participants were granted the possibility to get additional information about the concrete task in the competition and the formal requirements in a special hearing or/and through written requests.

Representatives of the project owner and well-known experts (architects, construction physics etc) composed the jury, and representatives of other interested organisations functioned as advisors.

The requirements for the illustration of the project should hinder that the functional and constructive contents are drowned by extensive illustrations of the outer design (the artistic and creative quality can also be demonstrated with simple illustrations). The delivered projects were first of all evaluated in a pre-examination for completeness and adherence to the formal requirements. On basis of the pre-examination the evaluator delivered a comparable report to the jury about the delivered project drafts as a first assessment basis. As a guideline for the assessment a rating scheme was developed. The final rating of the projects, however, was done in an open voting of the jurors. The best projects were awarded prize money.

As a result of the public relation measures the project owner expects an extended awareness of the problem and the greater acceptance of housing types in condensed building manner, especially with producers, people interested in building a house and politicians involved in local affairs.

The direct users of the results of the competition will be the producers of prefabricated houses, as they can present their customers a wider offer. Moreover, architects involved in the design and other experts in the building sector can increase their references and maybe also their pile of orders. The municipalities should be able to increase their offers of building land in condensed construction and should therefore decrease their costs for infrastructure in a sustainable way.


In general we wanted to achieve with this research project, that the topic of condensed building is picked up and presented. Up to now examples especially in the area of the construction firms for prefabricated houses were missing. That means, if municipalities, bearers of residential buildings etc. were interested in this topic, the market would not have had a concrete offer.

At the same time we wanted to go a step further and wanted to offer this condensed form of building in passive house quality. With that a majority of the prefabricated house producers would have to take an interest in this topic and would probably also offer this innovative technology in the one-family houses sector. Only a very minor part of the producers has identified the enormous potential in this area.

Through the execution of this competition for the construction of condensed prefabricated houses we targeted comprehensive system solutions in order to increase the energy efficiency, in order to achieve a better usage of renewable energy sources and in order to support a building form which saves precious space.

It was the aim of this project to combine those possibilities (proposals for realization of ecologic, energy efficient and condensed building) in intelligent concepts, in order to realize their benefits accordingly and in order to set, as a result, an impulse for the economy.

The sum of those facts is for us enough motivation and incentive to try to set the future direction with this competition and project.


The preparatory works and the basis organisation were discussed in cooperation with the project partners.

In order to conduct the competition in an optimal way, a document for the tender was made containing detailed definitions of the tasks, the rules of the procedure and the requirements, the dates and the fees/remunerations.

The procedure was carried out in a one-step, open, anonymous competition within the guidelines of the “Bundesvergabegesetz” (federal act on public tenders). It was solely aimed at producers and therefore was not a competition of architects. However it was not prohibited that architects, designers, building physicists etc. make a consortium and participate in the competition.

The regulations for competition of architects were applied as guidelines for the project owner and the participants, if it was not stated in another way in the tender.

The methodology followed the routine of the execution of architectural competitions, whereas a strong emphasis was put on the development and the observation of the assessment criteria. With this it was avoided, that an evaluation was carried out on basis of the outwardness of the demonstration (e.g. models, visualisation) and not on basis of traceable criteria which describe the task in a comprehensive way.

Next to the criteria of energy efficiency (calculation in accordance with PHPP) also criteria of ecology and living health were of great importance. The criteria catalogue of klima:aktiv passive house was as supplement an important background.

The planning criteria which were important in the assessment and evaluation were described in detail in the tendering documents. Through this a consistent instrument for evaluation high living quality in combination with a minor energy usage was developed and this served simultaneously as a basis.

In the execution phase it was necessary that the project owner of the competition and the partner consulted the participation companies in order to clarify the tasks and the description of the undertaking.

In a pre-evaluation the formal requirements of the works were evaluated and in the next step the fulfilment of the task was assessed. Incomplete submissions were provided to the jury with a list of shortcomings. All submitted projects were presented to an evaluation committee, a top-class jury. Next all jurors discussed the projects and finally the projects were awarded a prize.

Project Partners

Project management

Hr. Martin Zizka
Sonnenplatz Großschönau GmbH

Project or cooperation partner

  • Architekt ZT - Hr. Prof. Mag. arch. Hugo Potyka
  • bau.energie.umwelt cluster Niederösterreich - Hr. DI Erwin Schwarzmüller
  • Österreichischer Fertighausverband - Hr. Mag. Christian Murhammer

Contact Address

Martin Zizka
Sonnenplatz Großschönau GmbH
Harmannsteinerstraße 120
A-3922 Großschönau
Tel.: +43 (2815) 77270
Fax: +43 (2815) 77270-40