EXPERT INTERVIEW
Karin Stieldorf

DI Dr. Karin Stieldorf
Institute for Architecture and Design, Vienna University of Technology
Video (in german): Waldhör KG

You developed the award-winning LISI House together with some of your students – it shows that the combination of attractive architecture and high residential quality plus sustainable construction methods can be affordable. What happens next in the LISI project?
The project will be continued with developing new floor plans for larger families. At the same time we want to put more effort into the issue of building control systems, since there is a great deal of energy-saving potential here. The thing is to employ systems that can help us to utilize buildings in the right way; for instance, an intelligent control system helps to regulate temperature and ventilation as well as possible. In addition, we want to develop the building design further toward prefabrication plus a do-it-yourself element. Multi-storey buildings are another area of interest; here we join massive structures to lightweight prefabricated structures, and the massive concrete elements can be used to store energy.

How can the LISI House be adapted to differing climatic zones and user requirements?
First of all it is always necessary to analyse the climate in question and the characteristics of the country with great care. The findings are then incorporated in the design of the building envelope. For instance, the thickness of insulation can vary – this can be calculated accurately in advance. The shading elements and supply systems can be matched to what the sun actually provides. And of course the number of residents and their lifestyle play an important part at the planning stage.

Do innovative Austrian developments in the field of sustainable construction have good prospects in international markets?
Yes, I believe that there is considerable international demand for Austrian know-how in this area. Our experience in the Solar Decathlon has shown that we can compete with other institutions around the world. One area of great international interest is construction in timber, for example; Austria is an industry pacemaker here. 

Sustainable construction requires integrated planning processes. Is this taken into account in architects’ training today?
The young generation takes great interest in sustainable construction. While there isn’t an all-in-one teaching programme for this yet, we do practise integrated planning within the field of design; here colleagues in various specialized areas provide feedback and inputs for the students’ projects. Vienna University of Technology also offers a postgraduate course which combines all the components of sustainable construction in a single course.