Stefan Siebenhofer

Stefan Siebenhofer (2015), Water-Mills in Murau: Analysis of Form, Function and Potential of Decentralized Energy Sources in Agriculture, Institute for Architectural Theory, History of Art and Cultural Studies; 1st reviewer: Holger Neuwirth, 2nd reviewer: Hans Gangoly; 278 pages, German.

The present existence of water-mills used in pre-industrial agriculture in the European Alpine Region as a fundamental part of the utility buildings in farmsteads, is now seen as a special feature in the cultural landscape of the 21st century. Because of the considerable decay of these objects there is currently only a small percentage left of residual stocks whose documentation is necessary, on the one hand to save the source material of anonymous architectural creations and on the other hand to process insufficiently researched building-typological aspects of water-mills. The district of Murau is an area, which is characterized by an above-average employment in the field of agriculture and forestry. Because of that, there exist a high number of historically significant agricultural buildings. In addition, the district seeks to implement the self-proclaimed goal of being a self-sufficient energy region in order to create sustainable structures for future generations, to fight against the long-term problem of migration. The result of this thesis shows such a high quality and diversity of the carpenter-manufactured water-mill buildings that it is not possible to reduce the building-form of the water-mills to a certain type. Further, the analysis revealed that the majority of the locations of the water-mill were selected rationally in relation to the settlement in order to potentially reintegrate them into the agricultural production process. The documentation of the actual situation illustrates the striking process of decay of the water-mill buildings, because of their low level of utilization. However, in the view of the current relevance of renewable energy sources the vitalisation of those historical water mills suggests itself. The present study evaluated the realistic suitability of the water-mill locations regarding their potential for decentralized electricity generation and clearly shows high potential for a selection of the water-mills documented in this thesis.

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