Toolbox for the revitalisation of Maisäß-buildings

Topic area
Agriculture and forestry, incl. value chain
Environment, biodiversity, nature conservation

Disaggregation level
Alpine pasture management & mountain agriculture

Project region

Local Action Group (LAG)
LAG REGIO-V Regionalentwicklung Vorarlberg

LE– Programming Period
LE 14–20

Project period

Project costs overall
69 197,00 €

Subsidy from LE 14-20
41 518,20 €

EN - 19.2.1. Umsetzung der lokalen Entwicklungsstrategie

Project initiator
Stand Montafon

Short description

About 80 percent of the so-called Maisäß buildings in Montafon, which are classified as residential buildings, are used for leisure purposes and/or for rent. This is accompanied by architectural and structural adaptations that conflict with or endanger the traditional cultural landscape. What the 2015 amendment of spatial planning means for Maisäß owners who want to adapt their buildings is not yet really clear.

For this reason, the Montafon stand, in cooperation with regional tradesmen, the State Planning Department of Vorarlberg and regional planners and building authorities, would like to create a " Maisäß toolbox" that provides concrete recommendations for action, lists or connects the right partners and provides orientation towards sustainable and practicable construction solutions. During implementation, attention is paid to synergies with current projects in Montafon.

Point of departure

The cultural landscape created by the Maisäß cultivation is one of the main attractions of the (tourist) region of Montafon - both for locals and guests. However, due to rapid structural change, traditional building culture is at great risk.

The first step was done through the entry into force of the 2015 amendment to the Spatial Planning Act on the conservation of Maisäß and Maisäß-area. Concrete help is needed for owners of Maisäß-buildings who want/must make structural adaptations: what is traditional building culture in the first place? How much of it is in my building? What building history is there to discover? What possibilities for modern use are there with the greatest possible care in handling old building materials and techniques?

Concrete recommendations for action and also the right partners and their networks are needed to initiate an orientation towards sustainable and practicable construction solutions. It is important to act as quickly as possible, since the majority of the Maisäß-buildings are already used for holiday purposes and the structural adaptations tend towards the leisure activities. Here, authorities as well as individuals need guidance and information to preserve the regional cultural landscape while at the same time taking into account possible demands of future generations. According to the 2008 - 2010 Cultural Landscape Inventory, there are approximately 850 buildings in the Maisäß-areas to which a residential function can be assigned.

The surveys showed that of these buildings, around 660 have already been used in 2010 either for owner recreation, letting or both. That's almost 80%. Some of the initial farm buildings have also been equipped with residential functions, but these have not been recorded in terms of numbers. Due to the intensive change of use of the buildings, the Montafon region - and other regions in Vorarlberg - have so far been confronted with the following challenges:

- lack of a legal basis for the modern adaptation of buildings and a lack of regulations for appropriate waste water disposal

- lack of guidelines for the renovation and adaptation of residential and stable buildings and for the maintenance of central cultural landscape elements such as dry stone walls, Schraga-fences, etc.

In May 2015, the amendment to the Vorarlberg Spatial Planning Act came into force, which relates to the above-mentioned problems and offers solutions. How these solutions could look like in reality creates great challenges for the municipalities when it comes to approving building applications. Also building applicants have often been advised insufficiently with regard to redevelopment questions, which unfortunately often leads to the fact that old building substance is irretrievably destroyed and the well-meant redevelopment has a destructive effect on the cultural landscape and is also unacceptable under building law. Finally, there is a lack of experienced planners who can accompany such projects with professional sensitivity and from an understanding of the structural details of traditional solutions.

Targets and target groups

Building on the Maisäß-report of Montafon in 2013, the overall objective is to provide low-threshold access for building contractors to know-how regarding the refurbishment of their building while at the same time raising awareness of practicable and technically innovative solutions. A basic requirement for this approach are sensitized craftsmen and planners. This is because the solutions are often based on traditional craftsmanship, which only a few craftsmen know and master today.

At the same time, modern adaptation options are to be integrated under the premise of flexibility of use. The concrete objectives are as follows:

- The toolbox will provide the municipality, owners and planners with possible solutions on how the amendment to the spatial planning law can be put into practice.

- The tool box contributes to changing the image of the Maisäß as a holiday home to a Maisäß which, due to its temporary use, only has to meet minimum requirements (which certainly meet today's standards) and structural changes reflect and carry on the regional building culture and tradition.

- The regional building culture and the (historical) craftsmanship in building will be newly put in the focus. Old techniques and possible structural solutions are experiencing a renaissance - where it makes sense. Modern techniques and professionalism complement the whole.

- The traditional cultural landscape is preserved and sustainably developed and regional and traditional crafts are promoted.

- The upgrading of traditional building culture in the Maisäß-areas strengthens the regional identity, which is strongly influenced by the Maisäß.

Project implementation and measures

- Preparation of a coordinated handbook (toolbox) in printed and digital form for building applicants, architects and planners as well as for the municipalities/building authorities for Maisäß butt remediation with regard to building law and architecturally/planning-wise clarified Maisäß-restructuring with consideration of traditional and sustainable architectural solutions.

- Close cooperation with or integration of regional craft businesses, experts and state departments for knowledge documentation and knowledge transfer

- Raising awareness for the cultural heritage of Maisäß  and regional building culture as well as for old handicraft techniques and making transparent the advantages and intelligence of old approaches to solutions.

- Combination of old and new approaches in the search for architectural and regionally adapted renovation solutions for temporary housing

- Active communication of activities inside and outside the valley