The term "townscape" refers primarily to the architectural view of a town or a district within a municipality, regardless of whether the view is from the inside or outside. The townscape is generally shaped by the buildings of a place itself. The protection of the townscape includes the protection of built structures and public spaces, but also the protection of the visual impact of green spaces, parks, castle hills or the other features of a place.
In contrast to monument protection, the protection of groups of listed buildings focuses mainly on the appearance of what is referred to as "vernacular architecture" or "architecture without architects", i.e. building forms that have evolved over time that are not necessarily characterised by outstanding artistic achievement but - as an ensemble - create the "face" or character of a town or district and make it characteristic of that place.
It is therefore in the special public interest that such characteristic buildings are preserved and not impaired by alterations, and that new buildings must fit into the groups of listed ensembles, in particular, in terms of their architectural quality. According to established case law, these questions are the subject of evidence by experts. According to the Styrian Law on Townscape Protection ( Ortsbildgesetz, OBG 1977), experts for the protection zones have been appointed in 63 communities in addition to the Commission for Townscape Protection (OBK), and the Altstadt-Sachverständigenkommission (Historic Town Expert Commission of Graz, ASVK). Their central task is the preparation of expert opinions in proceedings and the provision of comments on preliminary inquiries (that are free of charge).
The management of the Historic Town Expert Commission and the Ombuds Office for the Historic Town lies in the hands of Department 9 Culture, Europe, Sports of the Office of the Styrian Government. The municipalities are in charge of procedures under OBG 1977 and GAEG 2008. The permit requirements of these procedures are stricter than those in procedures according to the Styrian Building Code. Applications in this respect must therefore always be filed with the community where the protected zone is located. Most local communities offer consulting days where experts in the preservation of local heritage can be consulted free of charge (for dates please contact the respective municipal offices).
Most of the Styrian communities with protected townscapes have conservation concepts in the form of municipal ordinances in place. They are open to the public and provide information and ensure legal certainty in planning projects.
>> Ortsbildsachverständigenliste / List of townscape protection experts
>> Ortsbildschutzgebiete Steiermark / Protection zones in Austria
Office of the Commission for Townscape Protection
Office of the Styrian Government
Department 9 Culture, Europe, Sports
Landhausgasse 7/IV, 8010 Graz
Fax: +43 (316) 877-5424
Mag. Richard WITTEK-SALTZBERG, phone: +43 (316) 877-5510
Sabine FLADERER, phone: +43 (316) 877-3157
Tanja HÖLLWART, phone: +43 (316) 877-5510