Living and Working in the Moosburg, the "community of education"

The design aims not only at creating comfortable living spaces and practical work environments, but at connecting these realms, thus providing a holistically attractive “living space”. A pilot project will be built on an appropriate site in the very core of Moosburg, neighbouring both the village square and the educational campus.

Short Description

Starting point/Motivation

The goal of the project is to design a climate-conscious housing concept by creatively combining technological and strategic approaches. The structural issues are live and work joined with densification strategies in existing settlement patterns. The concepts will be developed in a participatory process on site.

The local partner is the municipality of Moosburg (4.5000 inhabitants), situated in Carinthia's Wörthersee region. Moosburg grew in population approximately 20% since 1980, the municipality opted for family-friendly spatial development, receiving a federal distinction as Austria's most familiy-friendly locality this year. Moreover, Moosburg is positioning itself as a community of education – currently an educational campus is being realized. In general support of these developments and the sustained influx of inhabitants the municipality is determined, however, to integrate future projects regarding the urban development in a way that goes along with ecological, social and aesthetic principles.

Contents and Objectives

A central objective of the proposed project is to develop densified structures within the existing urban fabric as a competitive alternative to the detached passive house. Flexible typologies that support the combination of living and working respond to the trend that the separation of spaces for living and spaces for working is decreasing. The reasons for the growing importance of such concepts are new technological capacities and the increase of atypical employments. Rural areas thus may regain attraction. If one does not intend to increase mobility ever more, adequate architectural and infrastructural resources are needed. In a flexible way and fit to individual requirements, these resources will be provided by the project. Beyond that, the proximity of Klagenfurt's Alpen-Adria university and the Lakeside Software Park helps generate demand for future-oriented residential models.

The design aims not only at creating comfortable living spaces and practical work environments, but at connecting these realms, thus providing a holistically attractive "living space". Together with the project partners a pilot project will be built on an appropriate site in the very core of Moosburg, neighbouring both the village square and the educational campus. Within the framework of a participatory on site development process (Vor-Ort-Entwicklungsprozess), these building units will be shaped and enhanced together with their future inhabitants. The six pilot project buildings are designed as the first part of an extendable spatial structure that may connect to further units if necessary.


Project partner in the domain of building technology and energy is the Austrian Institute for Healthy and Ecological Building (Institut für Baubiologie und Bauökologie, IBO) - a leading research institution within the field of climate-conscious construction. Construction developer M&R HT-Bau and the executing timber construction company Weissenseer Holz-System-Bau are leading enterprises from the Wörthersee region with Europe-wide fields of activity.

The fundamental decision to achieve the aims of the plus-energy-programm is not to strive for autarchy of individual buildings but to conceive the energy supply and the allocation of resources as a collective challenge. Therefore it will be analyzed at municipal level, how to integrate the pilot project into existing supply networks (e.g. biomass energy plant, e-mobility network). An event with lectures by different experts in the field of energy, mobility, architecture and urban planning will be organized in Moosburg with the aim to raise public awareness of sustainable development and to find future inhabitants for the housing project.

nonconform architektur vor ort has several years of work experiences with participatory methods in design processes. For their especially developed method to cooperate with municipalities called Ideenwerkstatt vor Ort they received the Austrian Staatspreis for consulting in 2008.


After searching Building areas, inquiries about their availability, several studies on development schemes for different lots, etc. - a preliminary draft for a lot within walking distance of the village center was created.

The developed building structure on this property consists of 3 buildings that can be used in each case without further expansion as a large unit, or can be divided into up to 6 small units. The primary structure of the framework and the technical installations is designed so that adaptations without structural modifications are possible.

The initial cost estimates for the different versions of the buildings (prefabricated wooden parts and bricks for comparison) revealed, that with the desired space and energy concept no marketable prices could be achieved. Not least because the future users should also switch on electric cars, it was clear that the costs had to be optimized. Different possibilities of adaptation thus were reviewed to arrive at a market conform price.

Although the optimized prices were still significantly above current market prices the phase of concrete participation has been prepared in parallel with further optimizations: At the beginning of 2014, the date and the course of events for the first vor ort ideenwerkstatt with potential users have been scheduled.

There have been concrete interested persons on the project that were noted in the municipality Moosburg. By public information prior to the vor ort ideenwerkstatt more should have been found.

In the course of the vor ideenwerkstatt the project should have been presented in detail. Keynote lectures would have delivered complementary inputs to the proposed variations and energy concept. On basis of the possibilities and variations of the draft the potential future users should contribute their ideas and desires and thus set the secondary structure within the parameters of the primary structure. That is to say the finishing and the extent of measures provided for possible future adaptation.

Similarly, the use of the common areas ( pre-zone with carports, green spaces) and the question of density should be discussed together with the potential users. On the part of the developer arose the presumption, that the concept was particularly in view of the high cost too dense for the rural areas. However, since the density was on of the important quality criteria of the basic approach, and by renouncing any of the three buildings only a density as with single-family homes could have been achieved, it was unthinkable on the part of the applicant to implement the project with only 2 buildings.

In course of the actual preparations of the vor ort ideenwerkstatt it became evident, that potential users could be elated for the project, but in the end the cost remained the decisive criterion.

As a result of the developments described above, the applicant has decided together with the project partners to drop out of the research project prematurely.

Prospects / Suggestions for future research

The innovative content of the project is the integration of organizational and technological strategies. The building is not understood as a single object, but integrated into a higher-level system. Therefore, the energy concept includes not only the object but the interaction of living, working and mobility. As an alternative to the detached passive or energy-plus single family houses there is a lot of potential for the types designed in large parts of rural Austria.

The establishment of energy strategies and the creation of effective instruments at the community level in order to find sustainable solutions for energy supply and mobility, would be for very many rural communities of enormous benefit.

Project Partners


  • nonconform architektur vor ort


  • Institut für Baubiologie und Bauökologie, IBO
  • M&R HT-Bau
  • Weissenseer Holz-System-Bau

Contact Address

Architektin DI Katharina Kothmiller
nonconform architektur vor ort
Tel.: +43 1 929 40 58
Lederergasse 23/8/EG
A-1080 Wien