Excessive land consumption is one of the major environmental problems in Austria – and resource-conserving spatial planning is also gaining in importance internationally. International experts met in Dresden for a transnational exchange of knowledge. The Research Studio iSPACE was also present to discuss the sustainable development of cities and communities.

No country in the EU uses up as much uncultivated area as Austria: We are European champions in excessive land consumption – area development is increasingly decoupled from population development. But fortunately, the need to use existing resources efficiently and sustainably, to decrease soil sealing and to use existing infrastructure, is also increasingly being seen. Functioning spatial planning is not only important for strengthening town centres and enabling short distances for residents, it can also help protect the environment and preserve natural areas.

International exchange of experiences at the Dresden Land Use Symposium

The Dresden Land Use Symposium (DFNS) is dedicated to current developments in land policy, land management, and sustainable spatial development. This year, the symposium, organized by the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Spatial Development (IÖR), took place as a hybrid event from June 28 to 29. Focus of the symposium is the international transfer of knowledge: Through the cross-national exchange of experience, both experts and community representatives are able to learn from others and advance sustainable spatial development.

Sabine Gadocha from the Research Studio iSPACE Smart Settlement Systems of the RSA FG presented at the DFNS solution approaches from geoinformatics for the automated evaluation and simulation of inner settlement development. The methods were developed within the framework of the Center for Alpine Building – thus they are strongly guided by the alpine landscape in the province of Salzburg. In the alpine region, land and energy efficiency is a particular challenge due to the topographical and climatic conditions. Nevertheless, many of the approaches developed here can also be transferred to locations outside the Alpine region.

Innovative tools enable forward-looking spatial planning

Anyone who wants to implement  sustainable spatial planning must first have a detailed knowledge of the existing situation: What is the potential of developed and undeveloped building land? What are their characteristics in terms of location quality or mobilisability? How will local housing demand develop in the future? All these questions must be considered today and taken into account in strategies and planning decisions.

At the Center for Alpine Building – Research Focus Simulation of Settlement Systems, innovative models and tools are developed using geoinformatics methods that can be used for forward-looking spatial planning. They support, for example, the identification of redensification potentials or the mapping of the future development of housing demand. For this purpose, factors such as building parameters, transport connections or even possible housing subsidies are taken into account.

The tools developed help municipalities and planners to base their current and future settlement development on reliable data and forward-looking scenarios. The information provided and the transferable GIS tools serve as a planning basis for the overall development possibilities of a community – whether in the Alpine region or internationally.

The Center for Alpine Building is an initiative of the RSA FG in cooperation with the FH Salzburg. The center is funded by the province of Salzburg within the framework of WISS2025.