The selected pilot areas are:
  • Hofburg Innsbruck
The Hofburg is a 15th century former Habsburg palace in the Old Town of the city of Innsbruck, in the province of Tyrol in Western Austria. The palace is used as a museum, gallery and an event venue nowadays. There are also residential quarters and a church in the palace complex. The Hofburg is owned by the Republic of Austria and is managed by the Burghauptmannschaft, an organization created especially for the custodianship of the major historical palaces in Austria.
The area of the Old Town of Innsbruck covers 15 hectares and has a population of 1.217. Inside the borders of the ensemble there are 152 buildings, with mixed residential, cultural and commercial use. They are endangered by various natural hazards, specifically by strong winds, earthquakes and flooding, the latter being particularly relevant to the Hofburg, since the river Inn is in the immediate vicinity of the palace.
The reason for choosing the Hofburg as a pilot site relates to its geographical position in a provincial capital in a valley in the heart of the Austrian Alps. The unique interaction between the mountainous region and the urban fabric of the Old Town of Innsbruck offer an interesting study case for the impact of natural catastrophes on larger Alpine settlements. Furthermore, the Hofburg in Innsbruck is one of the most significant monuments of the history of the Habsburg rule and the Austrian state and is home to an extensive collection of artistic and historical artefacts that have been preserved throughout its long history.
  • Ensemble Dürnstein
Dürnstein is small town in the vicinity of Vienna, in the Wachau area, in the province of Lower Austria in the eastern part of the country. It lies on the banks of the river Danube and it covers an area of 16,71 square kilometres, with a population of 861. Inside the town borders, there are 86 historical assets protected by law, encompassing various uses, including residential, commercial and religious establishments. Given the fact that the town is still inhabited, the ownership structure is also diverse, comprising of private owners, the Diocese of St. Pölten and the Municipality of Dürnstein.
The area of Wachau is included in the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage and is renowned as a wine production region. As part of the Wachau, Dürnstein is a famous tourist destination, especially because of its rich history dating back to the first mention of the castle Dürnstein in the 12th century. Furthermore, the former abbey of Dürnstein, with its distinctive blue tower, the churches of St. Kunigund and Clarisses and the Town Hall are significant historical assets that attract thousands of tourists every year.
Given its vicinity to the river Danube, Dürnstein is particularly endangered by flooding, especially after heavy rainfalls, as well as mass movements from the hill overlooking the town. Earthquakes are also a looming danger to the region.
This combination of natural hazards threatening the town from different sides and the increasing frequency of such occurrences are the main reasons for deciding to include Dürnstein as a pilot area. Even though its geographical location is not exactly in the Alpine region, it is in close proximity to it and is facing similar issues, especially because of its position in a valley between a slope and a wide river – the Danube. Moreover, the ownership structure is very heterogenous and offers an opportunity to test the collaboration between the different stakeholders relevant to the project, such as the local authorities, the emergency services, the residents and the heritage experts.
  • Castle Ambras
The castle Ambras is a Renaissance 16th century palace built on the spot of a previous 10th century castle in the hills above the city of Innsbruck, in the province of Tyrol in Western Austria. The castle is owned by the Republic of Austria and is managed by the Burghauptmannschaft and the Museum of Art History of Vienna (KHM), together with other notable museums in Austria, such as the World Museum and the Imperial Treasury in Vienna.
Ambras has an extensive art and armour collection, initiated by one of history’s most prominent collectors, Archduke Ferdinand II, son of the Emperor Ferdinand I. The Lower Castle, built specifically for this purpose, is therefore the oldest museum in the world and still retains its original function and many of its originally exhibited items. Besides a museum, the castle is also used as an event venue.
The hilly surroundings increase the danger of a landslide directly concerning the castle, which is also exposed to flooding, strong winds and earthquakes, similarly to Innsbruck above which it towers.
The castle Ambras was chosen as a pilot site first and foremost for its unique heritage value as the first museum in the world, housing the first collection of art and armour gathered with the sole purpose of exhibiting it to the public. Furthermore, the geographical location of the castle on top of a hill is typical for its typology all over Europe and the world and offers a possibility of replicating the strategies generated from this site to others in the future and speaks directly to the universality of the solutions this project seeks to offer.
The project in Austria is led by the Austrian Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Austrian Federal Research Centre for Forests.
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology:
Mag. Martin Jung: project leader, responsible for coordination
Dr. Gerhard Heiss
BFW Austrian Research Centre for Forests:
Univ. Doz. DI. Dr. Robert Jandl
Cecilie Foldal, MSc.
Additionally, the Austrian partners will coordinate with a number of relevant observers from the areas of monuments’ and civil protection, as well as heritage management. The stakeholders involved in the testing stage will be diverse and include the owners of the cultural assets (the Burhauptmannschaft in the case of Hofburg, the municipality, the church and private owners in the case of Dürnstein), the local authorities, the emergency services, cultural heritage experts and the curators of the museums or galleries included in the pilot areas.


Dürnstein (Credits: Bwag / CC BY-SA 3.0), Hofburg Innsbruck (Credits: Taxiarchos228 / FAL), Castle Ambras (Credits: Manu25 / CC BY-SA 2.5)