Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Green roofs, tree tenants


A short description of the NSB

Designed by visionary Austrian artist Friedenreich Hundertwasser and built by architects Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan, Hundertwasserhaus is one of the most unusual residential buildings in Austria (52 apartments and 19 patios), one of European pioneer projects in regards to green roofs, “tree tenants”, “humus toilet”. Natural features as a roof covered with earth and grass, large trees growing from inside the rooms with limbs extending from windows, are incorporated in the structure. More than 250 trees and shrubs on the balconies and roof terraces make the Hundertwasserhaus a green oasis in the heart of the city. The grass and forest areas of the house amount to more than 100 per cent of the ground plan. What was taken away from nature by the construction of the building was restored on the roofs. For the tree tenant, Hundertwasser has defined a list of points clearly supporting the benefits of integrating trees within building structures themselves: they create oxygen; they improve city climate and well being of dwellers (i.e. reducing the dry-humid and the cold-warm contrast); they act like ‘vacuum cleaners’ swallowing even the finest and poisonous dust; they swallow noise, reducing the echoes of the city noise and creating quietness; they create shelter and protect like curtains from the outside view; they give shadow in the summer but let sunlight through in the winter when the leaves have fallen. Living quality is improved by having a piece of nature of one’s own. The philosophy of the house also relies on humus and small sewage treatment plants with aquatic plants which replace water flush toilets to minimize water waste. Since its construction, this curvaceous and irregular-shaped house has been reviewed by the international press and visited by millions of people, becoming part of Austria's cultural heritage.

NBS Implementation context
Location Wien (Austria)
Status (from - to) Project delivered (1983-1985)
NBS Scale Object (building, etc.)
NBS Impacts scale Object (building, etc.) Neighbourhood
Urban density/ Soil consumption High (dense city center, etc.)
NBS Typology

NBS Uban Challenges
Climate Issues Climate mitigation
Climate adaptation
Other 0
Urban water management and quality Urban water management and quality
Flood management
Other 0
Air Quality Air quality at district/city scale
Air quality locally
Other 0
Urban Space and Biodiversity Biodiversity
Urban space design
Urban space management
Other 0
Urban Regeneration and Soil Air quality at district/city scale
Other 0
Resource efficiency Food, energy and water
Raw materials
Other 0
Public health and well-being Acustic
Quality of life
Other 0
Environmental justice and social cohesion Environmental Justice: Recognition
Environmental Justice: Procedural Justice
Environmental Justice: Distributional Justice
Environmental Justice: Capabilities
Environmental Justice: Responsibility
Social Cohesion
Other 0
Urban planning and governance Urban planning and form
Governance in planning
Other 0
People Security Control of crimes
Control of extraordinary events
Other 0
Green economy Circular economy
Bioeconomy activities
Direct economic value of NBS
Other 0
NBS Stakeholders & Governance

As social housing block, Hundertwasserhaus is owned and managed by the Vienna City Gemeneide (Council). Residents of the apartments are free to customize their window sills anyway they want. That is a key characteristic of Hundertwasser, a strong proponent of people’s personal influence on architecture.

Initial actors (Leaders) Governments National government
Involved actors Governments National government Community Citizens (Residents)
Ecological scale Local scale green area
Governance model CLUSTER 4: Societal Resilience Self-governance/grassroots initiatives
NBS Financial aspects

Global (estimated) cost of the project -
Financing mechanism CLUSTER 1: Public financing
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Maximize material productivity and energy efficiency
Social Non applicable
Organisational Non applicable
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Awareness: Climate Change
Governance Co-creation and participation: Involvement of urban government
Economy -
Process inibitors
Knowledge -
Governance Participation and awareness: Perception
Economy Perception of the benefits Under appreciation of non-economic benefits Budget constraints Lack of funding knowledge Risk perception
IM Keywords
  • Self-governance/grassroots initiatives

  • Local scale green area

  • Public financing

  • Maximize material productivity and energy efficiency

References Kraftl P. (2010). Architectural movements, utopian moments: (in)coherent renderings of the Hundertwasser-Haus, Vienna. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 92 (4): 327–345.