An interview with Harald Oissner

In our last interview, our managing partner, Harald Oissner, explained his personal experiences in the architecture industry.
Today, we would like to present our company in more detail in another interview with Harald Oissner and discuss current developments in the construction and property industry.


  1. As someone who once worked here as an employee but is now the managing partner and has turned the company into one of the largest architecture and overall planning offices in Austria, how would you describe WGA ZT GmbH?


Basically, it has always been my personal ambition to combine contemporary architecture and a very good service. I am familiar with all of the mechanisms involved in a property project and I also know how to manage them all. I also try to communicate this internally to every single employee. Of course, the client is probably always the most important factor in a project of this nature. But an architect is there to give advice using their expertise to create added value for the project as a whole. This means that I would describe WGA today as a professional architectural or overall planning service provider.


  1. What has been the most memorable year for you personally in the company’s history and why?


It is probably always the last year that stands out. This is especially true of 2020. Many people have found the Coronavirus crisis to be particularly challenging. This is also true for us. However, we have overcome every challenge with a great deal of dedication and are better positioned than ever for the future. This is only possible if you have a team that you can also rely on. That is why I am particularly grateful to my colleagues.


  1. How much have the main areas of business changed over the years? How do you imagine the future?


I wouldn’t say that the main areas of business have changed over the years. But they have become more concentrated. Our focus today is exclusively on architectural and overall planning services. In the future, my aim is to develop the topic of integral planning in-house, wherever possible. This is also essential for the quality of architectural and general planning services.


  1. If you look at how the company has grown, WGA ZT GmbH has been consistently on the road to success. How do you personally define success?


Here I think you have to draw a distinction between my personal definition of success for WGA ZT GmbH and my personal definition of success. For WGA ZT GmbH it is of little use if you think you are successful, but this success cannot be determined by any objective criteria or from the outside. You can’t decide for yourself whether you are successful or not. The only thing that matters here is what other people think. This means that if we win competitions or procedures and also receive plenty of orders directly from our customers, then we will have been successful as a company.


  1. How important are sustainability and sustainable construction at WGA ZT GmbH?


The issue of sustainability and sustainable construction is very important. Especially in the world we live in today, the conservation of available resources is particularly important. The use of recyclable materials and technologies for building is also becoming increasingly important. This also applies to minimising energy requirements. This all means that in the future we will carry on thinking carefully about standardised construction methods and the use of sustainable building materials. Over the last few years we have implemented many projects that have already taken all these criteria into account.


  1. The towns are becoming increasingly “greener”. Green façades and outdoor green spaces are becoming more and more important in the development of new housing projects. For architects, this “green trend” certainly also offers many attractive design opportunities. Which projects are you particularly proud of in this context?


We are currently developing a residential quarter where the “green” design of the entire façade is part of the design brief. I don’t think much of it if you actually design a conventional façade and then, for the sake of appearances, have this façade covered with isolated plants. In the end, you’ll notice that because it won’t work either. As a result, if you pursue this approach, it really has to be considered carefully and put in practice from the start. The client must also be prepared to do this, because these initiatives also cost money.


  1. The architecture industry is constantly changing. In 2020, the Coronavirus crisis brought a strong push towards digitisation. How do you see these changes or effects on the architecture industry or in your company?


The digitisation push in 2020 was certainly enormous. I see every change as a challenge and therefore also positive. As we have two offices in Vienna and Berlin, we had the great advantage that the issue of networking and digitisation has always been present. Video conferences were also on the agenda before. But there have been significantly more over the last year …


  1. Keyword BIM. How much is the integral working method with BIM integrated into the work processes at WGA ZT GmbH?


We are certainly on a very good path here. Together with our partners from structural engineering and technical building services, we have now completed many projects with an integral working method. We are also in constant dialogue with everyone involved so we can achieve improvements for each new project. Professional and disciplined work is particularly important in the cooperation of different participants on a model. We therefore try to train our own staff intensively in this area.


  1. The year 2020 was an extraordinary year – yet there were some successes that the WGA team can look back on, even despite the challenging time. What do you consider to be the highlights of 2020?


For us, 2020 was basically very successful. We were able to win several competitions and negotiation procedures and start many new projects in Germany. The highlights are certainly the Omega House in Offenbach am Main or the “Labcampus” project at Munich Airport. The issue of sustainability is a major factor in both projects.


  1. As a result of longer lockdowns and various home office and home schooling solutions, the demands and requirements on living spaces have changed. Have you already noticed any changes like this as an architecture company that implements a lot of projects in the area of residential construction?


I can only identify a change here to a limited extent. The fact is that although there is a basic demand for larger flats, which is also down to the circumstances you have described, the situation with the price of property does not actually allow this, or only to a limited extent. More space usually also means that more money has to be spent on this greater space. However, due to the current situation, a large part of the population is rather weakened in terms of their economic and financial opportunities. I therefore see this as an issue that can only be solved by politicians.


Thank you very much for your time and your detailed answers.


Did you miss our last interview?
<<see interview>>