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Research Fields

17. January 2013



The concentration in this field is based on the understanding that socially sustainable means of production, maintenance, and use of the built environment can only be achieved through intensified research at several levels and an integrated approach overall:

  1. Planning and design objects of the eco-efficient research approach encompass a broad spectrum of construction products, components, and systems, as well as individual buildings, real estate developments, regional and trans-regional structures including transportation systems.
  2. Components of the built environment are eco-efficient in production and consumption if their construction and use are environmentally friendly in both economic and ecological terms. This is accountable by considering the business, regional, national, and global costs in relation to the overall benefits (hierarchical scales of economy).
  3. Technological optimisation processes in light of an eco-efficient approach address both material and energy flows (efficient use of material and energy inputs). An eco-efficient process analysis thus entails consideration of all relevant system levels, such as sustainable energy supply, renewable energy sources, energy-efficient construction, eco-accounting of construction and development projects, sustainable extraction, processing, and recycling of raw materials.
  4. The level of sustainability in the built environment depends on the efficient use of energy and materials, and this, in turn, depends on the efficiency of planning and design processes. Therefore the continued development and implementation of advanced design methods and supporting instruments constitute an integral part of the research field.
  5. Knowledge of political and legal conditions that are suited to promote eco-efficient action by producers and users of the built environment must be improved. The methods for eco-efficient regional and urban development with building projects as well as concrete infrastructure and real estate projects needs to be systematically researched and established with all the relevant stakeholders.

Based on the complementary qualifications represented in architecture and regional planning, as well as the past and present research work of the faculty, it is in a position to actively pursue and contribute to the research field “eco-efficient development and design of the built environment” in effective collaboration with other faculties of Vienna UT.


A significant reduction of energy and resource consumption, as well as emissions through buildings is only possible by incorporating the existing building stock in the investigation. The supported topic “eco-efficent building retrofit and restauration thus aims at developing an integrative approach to upgrading existing buildings through improvement of their thermal envelope, installation of energy-saving systems and innovative control methods, as well as occupant involvement.


Digital technologies considerably extended the realm of possibilities both in the design and planning process and in the manufacturing of building components. They facilitate ever more complex tasks in the domains of architecture and regional planning. The application of digital technologies has thus become indispensable across all levels of architectural and planning practice. This entails significant changes in working methods that need to be reflected and further developed through comprehensive research activities. The Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning at Vienna UT sees these challenges as central to the future development of its disciplines and is researching digital documentation and analysis methods, as well as design and planning technologies at the following and other task levels:


  1. Generative and parametric algorithms for design development (design space exploration).
  2. Development and design assessment of complex geometries.
  3. Modelling methods for the dynamic opitimsation of real estate and urban development projects.
  4. Methodology and digital tool development for the dynamic simulation and visualisation of urban and regional planning models.
  5. Parametric digital design and analysis tool development for building research, as well as urban and regional planning.
  6. Three-dimensional, virtual and physical modelling for documentation, analysis, reconstruction, and visualisation of historic buildings and building components.
  7. Thermal behaviour simulation of buildings and building components. 


New programmes and calculation methods inspire ever more complex design geometries and the architectural possibilities are no longer bound by geometric constraints. Rapid prototyping and reverse engineering methods enhance creative, artistic, and engineering design work as no other technologies before. They facilitate rapid transitions between analogue and digital media, enabling the generation and design control of complex geometries. Abstract, strictly visual work on the virtual design model is complemented by the intuitive, manual work of physical modelling. The spatial and perceptual qualities of a design are at once directly tangible and changeable.

The research field encompasses various processing methods for data input and output (3D scanning, rapid protyping, computer-aided manufacturing), with an aim to generate seamless workflows between virtual and material models. Rapid prototyping and reverse engineering methods shall be adapted to the demands of architecture and product design so as to provide all the extended possibilities for creating and handling complex geometries to designers. In this field, Vienna UT competes and cooperates with renowned universities in other European countries.


The development of urban agglomerations is marked by periods of growth, stagnation, or shrinkage. Given the intercultural and intercontinental diversity of cities and urban systems, such periods of urban development can hardly be explained in one universally applicable theory. Rather, today’s scientific discourse is dominated by three fundamentally different paradigmatic approaches.

The social sciences view urban developments and regional processes of urbanisation in terms of their (1) dependence on economic, demographic, and social processes that lead to similar distribution patterns in cities and towns, given a principal path dependence (structural approach to the fordistic city). In the same tradition, urban developments are also interpreted in terms of their (2) individuality, uniqueness, and originality due to regulatory differences between urban stakeholders, as well as established economic and cultural patterns (regulation/governance-based approach to the post-fordistic city and the creation of territorial capital). In contrast to both of these perspectives, a third, evolutionary view of urban development focuses on (3) the basis of general rules and self-regulating principles underlying social and spatial developments (rule-based approach to analysing localised dynamics in urban areas). 

This research field shall pursue the following objectives:

  1. Interdisciplinary discussion of the three paradigmatic theoretical approaches, as well as methodological discussion of the measurability of central processes.
  2. Analysis of controllability and designability in urban development (government and governance) with specification of the significance and function of architectural, urban and regional planning practice.
  3. Development of courses of action for urban and metropolitan regulation at different scale levels under particular consideration of regional and urban planning, as well as architecture.

Research fields are seen at several levels (from the individual to the building, milieu, town, and Europe as a whole) in terms of different areas of urban development, with a focus on the singularities and perspectives of European cities.


Specific effects of globalisation put cities under competitive pressure that poses new challenges for increasing their status and appeal in the urban system. High expectations of metropolitan ranking as urban source of economic growth demand an accurate understanding of the mechanisms involved and new models for adequately designing this process. The aim and objectives of this supported topic is, therefore, (1) the critical examination of these challenges, (2) the development of strategic conepts in cooperation with international research partners and stakeholders, as well as (3) the systematic investigation of meaningfulness and design issues in the context of public sector competition.


This research field of the Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning treats the interrelationships of social and spatial structures with a focus on microstructures in the sense of concrete architectural space design with respect to individual buildings and groups of buildings.

The built environment not only reflects, but also influences the social, political, economic, and technological capacities of a society. A variety of methods are applied to investigate the complex interdependencies between special and social structures with buildings or architectural structures: philosophical analysis, building and art historical investigation, sociological and anthropological methods. At present, three topics of concentration can be identified in this research field:

  1. Architecture as performative instrument: From a historical perspective and also with respect to gender studies, examples of architecture are analysed in terms of strategies and mechanisms of separation, inclusion, monitoring, control, and social hierarchisation, which aim at organising user behaviour to create private and public realms, subjective interpretations, gender relationships, social values and roles.
  2. Technical-philosophical analysis of architecture: History convincingly demonstrates how technical inventions, including the development of new materials and structures, have brought about radical changes in architecture in the past. Today, intelligent materials, media technologies, and digital design tool offer the potential for fundamental innovations. The influence of new technologies on architecture includes complex social structures, which are analysed from the technical-philosophical perspective.
  3. Culture-related discourse analysis of architecture: The specific contribution of architects to the built environment cannot be found solely in a technical discipline; rather, it must be viewed in its socio-cultural context (understood as a cultural phenomenon, influenced by economic, political, technical, psychological, and artistic factors). In relation to Bourdieu’s definition of cultural fields, architecture is seen as such, with its own values and legitimations. Research on the interdependence of social and spatial structures in concrete cases of architecture is necessarily interdisciplinary.

Based on the concentrations of publications to date and planned projects, Architektur als performatives Instrument (topic 1) is suggested, as it currently shows the most potential to positively distinguish the faculty from other architecture schools.


The Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning seeks to address the task declared in university law of developing the sciences and the arts together in connection with its field of work. Central to the discipline are the designing and building of architecture that combines artistic value and exemplary impact with technically and scientifically advanced qualities. In contrast to other research fields, which are marked by the application of systematic scientific principles to investigate questions of technology, methodology, or socio-cultural studies, this field focuses on the creative, innovative, and artistically individual solution to a building design task. The final product of such activities is primarily the built object or the graphic representation of the design idea and its communication.

The term architecture traditionally signifies the art and/or science of the deliberate act of designing the human built environment. Architectural design in all its stages through construction lies at the intersection between several disciplines and is, therefore, interdisciplinary by definition. The faculty’s design practitioners contribute to the advancement of the architectural arts through their artistic commitment to the development of architecture and art projects, architectural designs, artistic concepts, and design competitions.


This supported topic creates a space that allows experimental design ideas to be carried out free from economic constraints. It shall promote discussion and a basis for the design culture of the future, as well as provide prospects for further developments in this area. These activities may also be manifested outside of the university context, in public or semi-public realms, in physical objects and interventions.

Supported projects demonstrate an innovative design approach and are not as such intended for commercial purposes.

The supported topic encompasses to fields of activity: development and potential realisation of design objects or plans and documentation of the development process (e.g., high-ranking competition submissions, acknowledged realised projects, exemplary pilot studies) on the one hand, and the communication of this information through media or exhibits. The focus is on professionally recognised design practice.


Of the five previously described topics of supported research, the following three shall be recommended to the university rectorate:

  • Eco-efficient building retrofit and restauration
  • Urban competition and governance
  • Innovative architecture and art projects  
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