Once at the destination, a new path opens up to me. New encounters, new correlations – I can hardly wait. Where others can’t yet see connections, I like to establish them. Between facts and facts, competences and competences, city and countryside but most of all: between people.
From St. Pantaleon, a small village in the north of Austria, to St. Radegund near Graz: My life journey and professional path have sometimes been straight forward, sometimes made contentual detours and took a junction or followed unexpected paths. From the countryside to the city. And back, to where one thing lies close to the other.
But first, I went to study architecture in Vienna where I also learnt a lot outside the library and lecture halls: appreciation for instance. For spatial and built qualities. But also, that the most interesting stories most often lie underneath the built, manifest surface. What tied me most to Vienna though, were the people I met in between the buildings and streets. Not only this time still resonates with me, but also my love for music, which began during my time at the musical high school in Linz.
Professionally, this passion helped me to train my hearing: for customer’s and architect’s wishes during my time with Fa. Eckelt Glas. But also during my time with the architecture office nonconform, where I designed processes, namely citizen participation processes, harmonized the procedure and the used formats. Here, music came back in. Just as she did when I was orchestrating symposias. Also as the coordinator of a particularly active ensemble: the European architecture network Wonderland. I gladly turned meetings into events – if necessary with a bang. Greatly enjoying this, I then began to study event management.
When the opportunity to go into research and teaching came up, I took it and stayed at the TU Vienna for nine years. There, I tried to pick up on nuances but also to set the tone myself. Some have produced a long echo. Like the topic of the European Capital of Culture with which I am concerned since my PhD. A platform was created, kulturhauptstadt2024.at, which by now operates far beyond the border of Austria. Then, for almost five years I coordinated the architecture program at the CUAS in Spittal/Drau because education is important to me. That’s why I still teach in various universities.
Rural areas are now the focus of most of my projects. I accompany communities and initiatives in processes for future development. Since 2019, I have also been chairwoman of the Landluft Association. We make sure that the building culture in rural areas is considered in public discourse. Together with Roland Gruber, I initiated RURASMUS. For the rural area to regain its attraction to young people and for them to develop new perspectives for the rural Europe. In our podcast “Mutige Frauen braucht das Land” (“Courageous women are what the country needs”), my friend Raffaela and I are trying to find out what has motivated women to focus on the rural area in their lives.
All these efforts have one main goal: to empower people. To design living spaces. Their own and those of the people around them. And thereby create a future worth living in together. That gives me pleasure.
... and if there’s time in between or after, I am off to choir rehearsal.
DI Dr. Elisabeth Leitner, MBA