Industrially produced residential dwellings

Potential of future development for industrially produced residential dwellings
Enquiry on international tendencies in automated manufacturing and assessment of viable strategies for their implementation into the Austrian building sector

Content Description




New chances for an industrialized housing production emerge through an increasing development of globalization for housing markets. International cooperations in the areas of R&D, design and engineering, building production, marketing and process management are arising, too. It is of growing importance for stakeholders of the Austrian housing industry not to be restricted in local boundaries but to confront the changes and chances evoked by this globalization.

The objective of this research project was to develop a fundamental analysis of the possibilities and consequences of a post-industrialized housing production for the Austrian housing industry.

Answers for the following questions are to be found:

  • Which innovative developments are taking place right now in the US, Japan, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Germany: what is prepared and tested there?
  • Which are the potentials for industrially produced dwellings in Austria?
  • By which strategies these potentials can be implemented?
  • Which lessons can Austrian providers learn from international experiences?

The present condition of the Austrian housing industry is identified by dialogues with experts, workshops, literature research and international study trips within the context of the above questions.

Though the Austrian building industry has a slightly rising expansion rate, there is still a huge unreadiness for investments in R&D compared to other sectors of industry. The percentage of research funding in the construction and housing industry are 0,02% of the Austrian GDP. A low dept-equity ratio (on the average 12,7%), an SME oriented economic structure in the construction and housing industry, extreme locally oriented legal frameworks and building codes and a big dependency on market conditions have led big parts of the sector in a reliance on public housing-promotion funds.

The description of the Austrian housing sector is in most parts identical with the analysis for the European housing sector and can be briefly summarized by the following statements:

  • Fragmentation of responsibilities, processes and resources
  • Lack of focus on end-users
  • Lack of performance indicators
  • Short-term, price - based competition
  • Highly regulated
  • High labour intensity, but poor image
  • High resource usage
  • Local environment
  • Slow to innovate
  • Poor dialogue with society

By the sum of these factors international developments on a European level were missed and a current strategic innovation management is neglected. Potentials, which are internationally already opened by several large-scale enterprises, generate the identification of strategic business fields, which re-clamp the entire production process of the product housing. The chances for the post-industrialized production and transnational marketing of dwellings, which result from the globalization, are seen at present particularly by Japanese large-scale enterprises.

It was shown that these companies did not need building and construction industry-specific know-how, in order to integrate successfully their innovation management as a component of a modern business strategy in the development of the new product housing. In the context of the project the contact was made to internationally relevant experts within the range of the post-industrialized housing production. By a journey to Japan it could be shown that non-housing industry enterprises are able to use their core competences of other economic sectors such as automotive industry, chemical industry or robotics also for the housing sectors.

Documentation on successfully converted strategies within the range of the housing industry (examples by the chemical company Sekisui and the automotive company Toyota) are contained in this report. Innovation management driven investments in these enterprises follow a typical industry strategy and are not subjected to a piece manufacturing process of a traditional crafts oriented company.

Results of these investigations were thus that the strategic ability for innovation of the housing industry must be urgently promoted, in order to be able to compete on a global scale with the product housing. A consumer-oriented organization with a one-shop-stop philosophy is needed. The establishment of a virtual production network can take up thereby existing competences, bundle them and benefit from these competences. For the realization of this approach a political backup is required, in order to withstand internationally working companies with their clear advantages in production, price and quality. With reference to the inquiries it is concluded that the international competitiveness of the Austrian housing sector would have to be supported by further research programs and research projects. For a continuing program BUILDING OF TOMORROW we suggest to purse some of the suggestions and considerations developed in this research project.

Project Partners

Project manager: Mag. Gerhard Schuster
Zentrum für Bauen und Umwelt, Donau-Universität Krems

Mag. Susanne Geissler / Österreichisches Ökologie-Institut für Angewandte Umweltforschung
DI.Dr. Kurt Leitner


Mag. Gerhard Schuster
Zentrum für Bauen und Umwelt, Donau-Universität Krems
Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Str. 30, A-3500 Krems
Tel/Fax: 02732/893-2650 ; Fax:02732/893-4650