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Take-aways from the interactive online session

Vienna , 30 July 2020 | Economy, Energy

On July 1st, two HOUSEFUL co-creation workshops took place for the Demo building 4 in Vienna. This workshop was organized by Neues Leben and moderated online by WE&B. Housing Europe participated and was joined by Austrian HOUSEFUL partners. A wide-range representation of various interest groups could be achieved, among them Housing Europe member GBV and other practitioners within the housing sector, from researchers to local architects and financiers. The session aimed at detecting the chances, accelerators and obstacles for circular housing in the Viennese context.

More concretely the main objectives were as follows:

  • Identification of a desired future of circular economy in the housing sector of Vienna and the Donaufelder Str. 115 project site
  • Assessment of ideas for participation, previously carried out via a questionnaire sent to 57 stakeholders in March and April 2019 - and 43 interviews with different entities in the housing sector.

The co-creation workshops were divided into two subsections:

  1. Presentation of the HOUSEFUL project and the HOUSEFUL scheme solutions implemented in Demo 4
  2. An interactive stakeholder discussion using the Miro-App, focused on the future vision of housing construction in Vienna. Ideas for a joint design were collected and assessed.

The latter part consisted of an exercise based on a method following the metaphor of the ‘river of life’ with the goal to imagine an ideal and wanted future scenario of the housing reality in Vienna by 2030, in relation to circular living and housing in particular.

We attempt to outline some of the future scenarios below.

Future 1 :
There is no contradiction between affordability and sustainability in housing construction – meaning no more conflict between sustainability and economic costs

Future 2:
The buildings use already existent mechanisms as Passive Houses, a minimum of 25% circular products when building new apartments

Future 3:

The neighborhood receives a new status with a stronger network of social support. The city of Vienna is socially heterogenous and gets a new feeling of locality. City administration

Future 4:
Sustainable construction becomes a requirement: Sustainable solutions are standard and are included in legal legislations.

Future 5:

Houses are distinct in their aesthetics and are able to create an identity. Apart from that, aesthetics seize to be a matter of costs.

Future 6:
Technical salutations are integrated in the buildings: they are easy to deconstruct, energy generation within the building covers demand and water reusage is possible.

Relevant results of this first workshop show that the desired vision for the city of Vienna in 2030 can be sketched as follows: Recyclable solutions are common and their implementation is widespread, heterogeneous neighbourhoods exist; they are highly involved and actively engaged in sustainability measures, which thus create stronger neighbourhood networks eventually.


Obstacles that still hinder the realisation or can potentially prolong the convergence towards this future goal can be named:

  • As long as the costs for circular solutions are not specified or higher than for linear and standard measures, rarely investments are made
  • Currently individual heaters (gas heating) are installed in Viennese household. Changes are difficult as every resident has to agree to it.
  • Some technologies don’t have the required policy assurance or don’t have the authority or ability to implement
  • Enforcing solutions for private real estate or single houses encounters similar problems as above (approval is needed). Residents’ behaviour in municipal buildings must also be taken into account (difficulty in raising awareness)

On the other hand numerous enablers and accelerators could be identified. Their catalyst role will become a focus point of the project workshop ahead.

  • Global crises like the COVID one or the climate crisis act as accelerators, as they encourage law changes and legal adaptation
  • Change can be facilitated by the public hand, through support criteria or housing reforms.
  • Also self-initiative and courage of individuals (architects, investors, tenants,...) cannot be underestimated.
  • Technological knowledge and increased awareness for resource efficiency can drive change
  • The economic system is based on environmentally unfriendly structures (rather look at life cycle costs versus construction costs)
  • Lighthouse projects
  • Consideration of the total cost over building lifetime would be a driver.
  • Support to acquire more resources for planning, no “isolated project” – adaptability
  • When solutions can be communicated well, they can be passed on
  • Acknowledgement of and for beauty: in the end attention is often paid towards what is “beautiful” and not necessarily only functional

From these take-aways four main Co-Creation ideas and actions fields could be generated:

1 Co-Creation-Idea 1- Identification of circular materials for the housing sector

The idea’s goal is to produce a vision for a material catalogue. In doing so, it is important to measure both costs and their origin (local, regional, national, ...) and the possibilities of their usage. Furthermore, the sustainability of wood and cement should be critically reflected. Concepts of durability, flexibility and variability of materials and in consequence of the building are to be viewed into.


2 Co-Creation-Idea 2 – Key messages for future communication

Establish effective communication about implementation measures, as this can increase acceptance. Stakeholders are more likely to take action if they know what is feasible. Various interest groups should be addressed (including political actors to incentivize legislative changes). and communication examples should be included in the plan. Involvement of potential users and marketing / advocacy communication is important.


3 Co-Creation-Idea 3 – Means to involve stakeholders to lead circular economy solutions

The aim of this idea is to adopt a governance approach to establish circular solutions which highlights their benefits along the value chain. The following actors must be involved:

Residents, technical and material providers, architects and planners.

Other aspects that can be examined here are also: 

- OIB7
- Guidelines to facilitate the implementation of more viable solutions in single family houses
- Urban gardens as spaces for dynamization and creation of governance structures

4 Co-Creation-Idea 4 – The fundamentals of aesthetics for Circular economy solutions

Aesthetic low-tech solutions for the functional circular economy of tomorrow:
Aesthetics as a means of effective communication: This is to prove sustainability is seen as aesthetic and can be valuable The aim is therefore to convey the message that intelligent low-Tech solutions enable a different relationship with living space. Important here is also the connection to functionality. If solutions are not functional, they are not used.

Throughout the two workshops, HOUSEFUL and its participants were able to identify co-creation ideas that will be implemented in the upcoming workshop. HOUSEFUL will examine the possibility of bringing ideas together where possible. The consortium will now summarize the results of this meeting and find out how best to incorporate the ideas into the tasks of the project ahead.

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