Shifts in economic and social prerequisites in rural and urban regions, provincial towns and villages determine each other, the thereby caused demographic, economic and social changes confront rural regions with existential questions.
Consequentially, the gradual hollowing out of the city centers and the development of shopping malls in the open countryside or in the suburbs as well as the carpet of single-family dwellings push the former green zones further away.
Scarcely settled areas like the Murtal are unprofitable for public transport services and medical care therefore cultural offerings are thinned out. An increased volume of car-oriented traffic ("forced mobility") along with the growing environmental impacts of pollutants and noise mean a decline in the quality of life for those who stay behind in these rural centers – in turn a spiral of emigration occurs and boosts other urban sprawl trends.
Completely opposite dynamics like the growth of the metropolitan areas (primarily conditioned by migration) and the shrinking of towns and residential areas in rural regions – as can be seen in the municipality of Unzmarkt-Frauenburg – cause vacancies on the one hand and an ongoing overconsumption of dwelling area in the periphery on the other.
Only spatially as well as socially intact centers offering opportunities for informal encounters, such as economic and municipal facilities within walking distance, can be beneficial to forming a community and positive identification.
The question arises, which affirmative expectations and objectives can be formulated on the part of the different inhabitants’ groups in Obdach and Unzmarkt-Frauenburg. During the next steps it will be necessary to determine which local-spatial and specifically architectural structures are possibly available and how these non-material concepts could be aligned with the spatial realities and potentials of each location.
Institute of Housing, TU Graz
Prof. Andreas Lichtblau