General description of the case study

South Tyrol is an autonomous province of Italy and part of the region of Trentino-South Tyrol. The population, in 2019, was 532,080. It has a total area of 7,400.43 km². The area is administratively divided into 116 municipalities. In mountainous South Tyrol, about 64.5% of the land is located above the 1500 metre contour elevation and only 14% below 1000 metres. Therefore, the population is largely concentrated in relatively small areas in the valleys – at altitudes between about 200 and 1200 metres – mainly on extended alluvial cones and wide valley basins. The most densely populated areas are found in the Etsch Valley, where three of the four largest cities, Bolzano/Bozen, Merano/Meran and Laives/Leifers, are located. In South Tyrol, 43.9% of the resident population live in the seven municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants. (Landesinstitut für Statistik (Astat): Demografische Daten für Südtirol 2018.  called up on 12.11.2020.)

The flat valley floors are mainly used for agriculture. The three largest valleys in South Tyrol are the Etsch, Eisack and Puster valleys, formed by a glacier and its tributaries. In addition to the three main valleys, South Tyrol also has many smaller side valleys (Wikipedia: Südtirol, Täler, called up on 12.11.2020.)

Copernicus Programme: Corine Land Cover, CLC
Copernicus Programme: Corine Land Cover, CLC 2018, called up on 12.11.2020

South Tyrol is a mountainous region where 94.5 % of the land cannot be used for building. Therefore, in order to be preserved for the future generations, the landscape must be used carefully, so that South Tyrol can continue to be an attractive environment for both residents and guests. The new provincial law on "Space and the Landscape" came into force in July 2020 and addresses the new challenges to the municipalities, planners and architects, and the construction industry as a whole, in South Tyrol. The most important aim of the new law is to enable sustainable social and economic development on the one hand and to reduce land consumption and urban sprawl on the other, to protect South Tyrol's natural and cultural landscape in a sustainable and efficient way. The most important instrument for this is the definition of settlement areas by the municipalities. In the future, new developable land (with the exception of industrial and special-use areas) will be designated solely within the defined zoning boundaries. This will enable compact development and the containment of urban sprawl. This also means, for example, that new developable land must border on existing zoned building areas, that renovation of existing buildings must take precedence over the construction of new ones, and that the municipalities must strictly incorporate unused or underused building volumes into their zoning plans, so that existing buildings are used before new areas are zoned for development. Another important element of the new provincial law is the mandatory surveying of empty buildings in the municipalities.

Villages and cities should not lose their attractiveness. At the same time the further development of land for building must be countered. Therefore renovations, extensions by the addition of extra floors, vacancy management, the use of sustainable raw materials and innovative urban planning concepts become more relevant.

Vacancy management South Tyrol
Vacancy management South Tyrol

As developable land is limited, sustainable land consumption for building should be aimed at. The principle of “old before new” and the reduction of land use through smart solutions will apply. Therefore, Plattform Land has established an advisory board “Smart Land Use”, which provides expert opinions and recommendations for action.

Pilot project South Tyrol, Italy: vacancy management

Since 2017, Plattform Land has been conducting a pilot project on vacancy management in selected pilot municipalities in South Tyrol. The aim is to further increase the attractiveness of the municipality, while at the same time reducing land consumption.

Brandruine Klausen
Brandruine Klausen, before and after renovation

The main focus is on recording vacancies, sensitising and providing initial advice to target groups and communicating with owners. The approach is based on the needs of the people concerned, takes into account the existing building structure as well as the surroundings and concentrates during implementation primarily on activating people to act.

Information event with the citizens of the municipality Truden, South Tyrol
Information event with the citizens of the municipality Truden, South Tyrol

The project features the following steps:

  1. recording of vacancies/building gaps 
  2. raising public awareness of comprehensive internal development
  3. data digitalisation, in coordination with the Province of South Tyrol and the Association of Municipalities, with regard to the uniform GIS software and its further development for vacancy management
  4. initial consultations of the affected citizens together with experts (architects, KVW Arche) on the day of the interior development
  5. subsidies for municipalities and property owners wishing to redevelop should be examined and then coordinated and targeted, as is already the case in some neighbouring regions. This is what Plattform Land is working towards.

The pilot municipalities support the coordination of the pilot project by Plattform Land with contributions or by issuing a mandate to Plattform Land.

Link to the project: