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Building and Design had two good reasons to celebrate in the academic year 2016/17. In October, the department celebrated its 20th anniversary. And in the following spring, Architecture - Green Building, the latest addition to the department’s range of degree programs, was accredited as an EU-wide recognized architect degree. The preliminary highlight of a success story with future potential.
The Department Building and Design has always been guided by future developments and trends. What began in 1997 with the diploma program in Civil Engineering - Construction Management and 66 students, is today the Department Building and Design at FH Campus Wien with currently six degree programs and 600 students. The range of courses offered has been successfully expanded over the past number of years and was further developed early on with a focus on sustainability. Since 2013, it has been possible to earn a bachelor degree in Architecture - Green Building at FH Campus Wien. Since autumn 2016, the architecture program with a focus on sustainability has also been offered as a master degree program. And since 2017, Architecture - Green Building has been recognized throughout the EU as an architecture degree program. “Our graduates, like their colleagues at university, are now allowed to use the title ‘architect’ after three years of practical experience after graduation and successful completion of the civil engineer exam,” says program director Christian Polzer. But for most graduates, it is not about the title. "They are primarily interested in sustainable architecture.”
The sustainability aspect is also the focus of the degree program. “We consciously decided to develop a practice-oriented architectural degree program with a focus on sustainability. What is new and so far unique is that we look at sustainability in terms of the entire lifecycle of a building,” explains Christian Polzer. After all, the construction costs of a building alone do not say anything about its profitability. The deciding factor is the operational costs, which often clearly exceed construction costs after only a few years. Over the entire life cycle of a building, operational costs can account for up to 80 percent of the total costs. “This is exactly what we focus on in the degree program Architecture - Green Building. Our students learn to design and build energy-neutral buildings that will be more sustainable and less expensive to manage,” says Polzer. In addition, the curriculum focuses on areas such as climate-friendly planning and construction, construction physics and building physics. It is important for civil engineers that a bridge be built between architecture and civil engineering: “This is the only way for our students to learn to think holistically and plan and implement innovative state-of-the-art solutions.”
“In order to reduce the operational costs, the construction of buildings will become more expensive in the future,” asserts Christian Polzer. That is just one of the challenges facing the construction industry. Very important is also the flexibility and multifunctionality of buildings, something that has not been given much thought up until now. “If you plan and build flexibly, you do not have to demolish a building in the future, instead you can change its use with some simple conversions, allowing you for example to turn an office building into a residential building,” says Polzer. In any case, the prospective architects at FH Campus Wien will be well equipped to master these challenges in the future and fully prepared to design, plan and build energy efficient and climate friendly buildings.