Building culture

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Ancient buildings such as the Parthenon in Athens are classic symbols of building culture

Baukultur describes the sum of human efforts to change the natural or built environment . Unlike architecture (building art), building culture includes all elements of the built environment; Baukultur goes far beyond the construction and design of individual buildings and also includes, for example, urban development and local planning , the design of traffic structures by engineers and, in particular, art in building and art in public spaces . As an expanded concept of culture , building culture is mostly based on the history and tradition of a country or region.

The topic not only affects professional planners, but all people who are confronted with the built environment. The responsibility for the quality of the built environment does not lie solely with the experts, but is a social responsibility.


In recent years, the term “Baukultur” has become known primarily in connection with the Architecture and Baukultur initiative , which aimed to raise the level of Baukultur. The intended result of the political process was the establishment of a Federal Foundation for Building Culture (analogous to the German Foundation for Monument Protection ). The law establishing the Federal Building Culture Foundation passed the Federal Council on November 24, 2006 and came into force at the turn of the year 2006/2007. On September 21, 2007, 324 eligible voters from all disciplines of planning, building and art met in Potsdam for the founding convention of the foundation. The Federal Building Culture Foundation started its work with the convention.

Like culture as a whole, building culture is a central task area of ​​the federal states; accordingly, networks, centers or forums on building culture are organized in the individual countries, for example the Bremen Center for Building Culture (b.zb) or the Network Building Culture Lower Saxony. In North Rhine-Westphalia, building culture has already become a supraregional organizational structure with the state initiative StadtBauKultur NRW and its office. There are numerous regional and local networks on building culture below the state level.


Even Austria has an internationally recognized architectural policy. Since 1992 the federal arts section has had its own department for architecture and design, which is committed to promoting contemporary architecture . There is also the Architecture Foundation, which is supported by regional architecture forums and institutions as well as by associations of architects at the federal level. It is a platform for the regional architecture houses. Another institution is the platform for architectural policy and building culture. Its members come from the following three pillars: professional representation / interest groups, training and placement. A major success of the platform is the parliamentary resolution to create a building culture report. This was coordinated by the ARGE Baukultur Report and presented to the public on July 9, 2007 by the Federal Minister for Education, Art and Culture, Claudia Schmied . In autumn 2007 the parliament decided to continue the building culture report every 5 years, as well as the installation of an advisory board for building culture in the Federal Chancellery.

On the private side, the non-profit Austrian Building Culture Private Foundation has been active since 2000. The National Trust in Great Britain serves as a model . The aim of the Baukultur Foundation is to acquire and renovate endangered, Baukultur valuable objects. The foundation currently owns five objects and some of them are open to the public. The foundation is in close contact with science and politics and strives to significantly expand its activities.


In Switzerland, the understanding of building culture has so far mainly related to the past, specifically to the architectural heritage in the form of heritage protection and monument preservation. The fact that building culture also includes current building culture has yet to become established. An early sign of the Swiss Confederation's appreciation of the architectural heritage is the Federal Decree on the Protection of Historic Monuments of 1886. In 1962, nature and homeland protection even received constitutional status. A separate federal law on nature and homeland protection followed in 1966 (last revised in 1995). To ensure that contemporary building culture draws level with the building culture heritage, the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects SIA launched the Round Table Building Culture Switzerland in March 2010 , which published a “Manifesto on Building Culture” in June 2011.

Other countries

In many European countries there has been an active national architectural policy for years that creates political and legal framework conditions. The governments have evidently realized the importance of building culture and are trying with various means to promote it and anchor it in public awareness. Some examples:

  • An architecture law was passed in France as early as 1977 , which stipulates a public interest in architecture. More laws followed, and today France has extensive legislation on the quality of public works.
  • The Netherlands started the Ruimte voor Architectuur program in 1987 , which was intended to stimulate the cultural component of architecture and improve quality. As a result, important institutions ( NAI , Berlage Institute) emerged, a Rijksbouwmeester acts as a kind of supervisor at the national level.
  • In Sweden , clauses have been incorporated into legislation that require an aesthetic component in all construction work. In 2001 the “Year of Architecture” took place in Sweden with numerous campaigns and activities.

European level

There are also efforts to promote building culture on a pan-European level: on October 27, 2000, a resolution on the quality of architecture was passed during the French EU Council Presidency.

The European Forum for Architectural Policies came into being on the initiative of the Finnish and French authorities in September 1999. It represents a European platform to bring together experts and institutions working in the field of architecture and to develop a European charter on architecture. The following is planned to promote building culture at European level:

  • Establishment of an inter-ministerial body at European level as a point of contact at the European Commission
  • greater inclusion of the subject of architectural quality in EU guidelines
  • Initiation of studies on the economic added value through architectural quality.

So far, three international meetings with different focuses have taken place, first in Paris on July 10 and 11, 2000, then in Rome on November 13, 2000 and most recently in Stockholm on May 15 and 16, 2001.

See also


  • Initiative Baukultur (Ed.): Baukultur! Information - Arguments - Concepts. Second report on building culture in Germany . 2005 ( online version [PDF]).
  • Federal Ministry for Transport, Building and Housing (Ed.): Status report on building culture . 2002 ( online version [PDF]).
  • Förderverein Bundesstiftung Baukultur (Hrsg.): Baukultur. On the way to becoming a national foundation . 2003.
  • Werner Durth , Paul Sigel: Building culture - mirror of social change . JOVIS Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86859-010-4 .
  • Federal Foundation for Building Culture / Förderverein Bundesstiftung Baukultur e. V. (Hrsg.): Handbook of building culture . 3. Edition. Berlin 2013–2015.
  • Globalized agriculture and regional building culture - how does that fit together ...? Documentation of the conference of the German Foundation for Cultural Landscape 2011, published by aid infodienst and Stephan A. Lütgert, aid issue No. 3397, Reinheim 2012.
  • Regional building culture as a contribution to the preservation of cultural landscapes . Contributions to the conference on 24.-26. February in Muhr am See / Bavaria, published by the Bund Heimat und Umwelt in Deutschland e. V. Bonn 2010, ISBN 978-3-925374-90-6 .
  • Reiner Nagel : Building culture. in: Academy for Spatial Research and Regional Planning (ed.) (2018): Concise Dictionary of Urban and Spatial Development, pp. 131-137.

Web links




  • Baukultur - on the homepage of the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects

Individual evidence

  1. Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects: Manifesto on Building Culture (pdf; 210 kB)