In the face of the enormous waves of refugees and migrants entering the country, a lot of architectural proposals in Austria take on the one function that is crucial for the discipline of architecture: providing shelter. However, the question remains how the urgent need for accomodation can be met within the constraints of time and budget, and how far building codes and quality standards can or should be stretched to provide dignified housing rather than future slums. After all, temporal solutions tend to often become permanent in Austria.
Case in point: The proposal for this timberframe construction with 8 apartment units, proposed by the provincial councilor for housing in the province of Lower Austria. The prototype was supposed to be speedily reproduced a hundred times, and placed in various boroughs to provide much needed accomodation for refugee and socially vulnerable families. However, the openings in the façade do not provide the sufficient daylight levels for housing, rather those of storage or stable buildings. Another much criticized point is thoughtlessly placing the stairs directly in front of lower floor windows.Vorarlberg, the Austrian province most known for energy-efficient timber constructions, shows another way: rather than placing refugee housing on the outermost parts of the village, smaller scale housing should be mixed with other functions in the village centre, to facilitate integration and social structure. Architects Postner, Kaufmann and Duelli which are currently working on four housing projects in smaller communities, are using their project Transfer Wohnraum Vorarlberg as an active tool for integration : "Most important is to build low cost, but high quality. There is no point in lowering building quality and site requirements when building for refugees. What sort of sign are we giving by this? And even more: how sustainable is this? Our houses are of such a quality, that they are flexible and attractive for Austrian users, just the same."