Integral planning
Planning workshop for CMIBA project at Spreefeld © Michael Prytula 2021


The requirements for the realisation of building tasks have become increasingly complex (Schwerdtner et al. 2019, p.1). In addition to dealing with functional, constructive and aesthetic planning tasks, the technical and building physics requirements for fire protection, sound insulation, environmental protection and, in particular, energy planning have also risen sharply in recent years. The right decisions need to be made at an early stage of planning, as these have a major impact on the spatial, functional, technical, economic and time aspects of a project. Subsequent changes at a later stage of the project, e.g. as a result of inadequate requirements planning or problems that were not identified at an early stage, are often impossible to implement or can only be implemented at great expense in terms of work, costs and time. Due to the strong temporal and logistical dependencies between the trades, they can trigger further cascades of problems in the form of rework cycles (Hanko & Prytula 2020, p.50). Particularly in larger construction projects, sequential processing of planning tasks usually leads to suboptimal results, which are reflected in longer realisation times and cost increases. Which planning procedures can be used to successfully manage complex planning, legal and sustainability-related requirements? How can potential problems or conflicts of objectives be identified and resolved at an early stage?

Generic Description

The challenge of complex planning tasks can be met by early and continuous cooperation of all project partners, which is called integral planning. “Integral planning means that planning goals and procedures for solving complex planning tasks are coordinated at an early stage among all relevant project participants so that the goals are achieved more efficiently and effectively. Integral planning is mostly used in connection with the planning and production of energy-efficient and sustainable buildings or neighbourhoods (Löhnert 2002; Voss 2005, p. 153 ff.), but is not limited to these. The Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA) used the term “Team-Oriented Planning – TOP” for comparable planning procedures as early as 1996 (BfK 1996). In the evaluation systems for sustainable building (e.g. dgnb, BNB), criteria profiles for integral planning are firmly anchored for the evaluation of process quality. Integral planning is characterised by iterative problem solving within an interdisciplinary team. The integral planning process is not new in and of itself: some planning offices worldwide have been successfully applying this approach for years (Löhnert 2002).” (Prytula & Hanko 2019, p.77). In practice, however, integral planning is often not or only insufficiently applied for various reasons. The higher planning and communication effort is mostly not covered by the fee scales and the willingness of the actors to participate in the preparation and evaluation of different planning scenarios is correspondingly low (ibid.).

In addition to professional qualifications, goal-oriented teamwork requires especially social-communicative competences in order to promote interdisciplinarity and cooperation. In the overall process of producing and operating a building, six process phases or work steps are distinguished with regard to integral planning (Nordby & Jørgensen 2014, p.9 ff):

  1. Definition of requirements (creation of a specification).
  2. Team building
  3. Iterative problem solving
  4. Continuous review of objectives
  5. Building construction and commissioning
  6. Monitoring and follow-up of use and operation.

Integral planning is usually based on a life cycle perspective. Suitable planning tools such as BIM and methods for simulating and visualising different planning variants should be used to support the decision-making processes. Methods for assessing the environmental impact (life cycle assessment) and life cycle costs (life cycle costing) are used for this purpose, among others.


In the case of the Hunziker site, a model planning and development process was established in the form of diverse dialogues. At the beginning, a competition generated interdisciplinary contributions. In the subsequent project development, four selected architectural firms and the winners of the urban planning competition entered into a dialogue phase with the building cooperative. The overarching, joint building project was then developed. As part of an early planning phase, a company was commissioned to measure the grey energy, which made it possible to optimise the constructions according to the Minergie standard at an early stage. In addition to the dialogue phase, topic-specific conferences and working groups were set up to promote exchange and communication (Maier 2013; Hugentobler, Hofer & Simmendinger 2015, p. 152; p.173).

Lessons learned and synergies

Integral planning means solving complex planning tasks through an interdisciplinary and team-oriented process organisation. In order to achieve the desired project and sustainability goals, the quality of integral planning plays a central role. The quality of integral planning is in turn significantly influenced by the following parameters:

  1. Experience of all actors with integral planning,
  2. appreciation of the client for integral and sustainable planning,
  3. a good team culture, 
  4. good communication skills,
  5. the edifying nature of the error culture,
  6. Early start of integral planning including coordination tasks, and
  7. Application of appropriate tools for integral planning (Prytula & Hanko 2019, p.83).

These parameters represent success factors that influence each other positively or negatively.


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Maier, Florian (2013): Preisträger: Hunzikerareal in Zürich – mehr als Wohnen. Accessed on 20.05.2022 from 

Hanko, J., Prytula, M (2020): Alles im Blick? Integrale Planung und Nachhaltigkeitszertifizierung. In: Gebäudeenergieberater (GEB) 07/2020, S.48-51

Hugentobler, M., Hofer, A. & Simmendinger, P. (2015): Mehr als Wohnen. Berlin, Boston: Birkhäuser.
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Nordby, Anne Sigrid; Jørgensen, Per F. (2014): Integrale Planung – Prozessleitfaden. Market Transformation Towards Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Through Widespread Use of Integrated Energy Design (MaTriD): Asplan. Accessed on 20.05.2022 from

Prytula, M.; Hanko, J. (2019): Neubau Wohnhaus für Studierende in Berlin-Grunewald. Endbericht des Forschungsprojekts Vario-Wohnungen gefördert mit Mitteln der Forschungsinititative Zukunft Bau des Bundesinstituts für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR), Bonn

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Voss, Karsten et al. (2005): Bürogebäude mit Zukunft. Konzepte, Analysen, Erfahrungen. Autoren: Karsten Voss, Günther Löhnert, Sebastian Herkel, Andreas Wagner, Matthias Wambsganß (Hrsg.). Berlin: Solarpraxis GmbH.