Research Project „Earth construction in the Weinviertel"

Earth, a building material used for centuries, is slowly disappearing as a constructing element of our cultural landscape. Nevertheless, building with earth still brings many advantages. The Institute of Law– together with other BOKU-institutes (Institute of Applied Geology and Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning) – tries to raise the public’s awareness towards this traditional building substance. This citizen science project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy as part of the Top Citizen Science initiative wants to collect and analyse data regarding earth constructions in the Weinviertel region. Therefore, it uses tools (e.g. an app), which were developed in the former school-science cooperation “Think Spatial!”. To optimise those tools and methods, the Institute of Law focuses on the protection of the participants’ privacy rights throughout the project.


In many regions, earth played an important role as construction material over centuries and was therefore an important economic and societal driver. From a cultural perspective, specific earth construction techniques led to unique architecture and infrastructure, which influenced the landscape utilisation and subsequently the societal identity of the Weinviertel region. Today, most traditional quarrying areas are abandoned and unknown to public. Earth buildings often get reshaped or demolished. This leads to an ongoing decrease of traditional substances and by this of the Weinviertel’s building-identity.

Nevertheless, earth again becomes more and more popular as “new” building material, mainly for ecological reasons. A profound knowledge of earth-structures gained by identifying, classifying and analysing old sites helps to understand the cultural, societal and landscape-dimension of earth building. By this, the understanding of earth as material can be adapted properly to new buildings and renovations.

Until today, there is no data on the actual amount of earth buildings in the Weinviertel. However, this data is crucial for structural and spatial-planning measures. The survey of this data needs local and historical knowledge, which is why the project uses a citizen science approach. The legal and contextual framework will be development by geologists, jurists, earth construction experts and the Museumsdorf Niedersulz within different working groups. The final step is the implementation of the citizen science project on earth monitoring and analysing.

The project „Earth construction in the Weinviertel“ aims to preserve earth as a traditional construction material and shaper of our cultural landscape. Citizen Scientists contribute with their local and/or historical knowledge to identify and describe old earth construction sites. These contributions are published as a WebGIS Service on a Website and will be enhanced with further analysis and visualisations. This leads to and application that allows people to explore these sites virtually and animates them to visit and experience these cultural markers and landscapes.


Project partners

Department of Landscape, Spatial and Infrastructure Sciences (Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning (ILEN))

Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Hazards (Institute of Applied Geology)

Department of Economics and Social Sciences (Institute of Law)

Museumsdorf Niedersulz


Project participants

Schauppenlehner Thomas, project leader

Eisenberger Iris, sub-project leader

Eder Renate, project staff

Mittermüller Bernhard, project staff

Muhar Andreas, project staff

Ottner Franz, project staff

Salak Boris, project staff

Bo-Mi Choi, project associate

Annemarie Hofer, project associate



This project is part of the initiative Top Citizen Science, funded by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy.