Beautiful architecture, fantastic construction details, pleasant people…

Just returned from the study trip to Liechtenstein and Austria’s Vorarlberg and I am still felling overwhelmed by everything we have seen. Trip was organized by CIPRA (International Commission for the Protection of the Alps) to, through exemplary cases, popularize sustainable buildings approach.

Austrians, probably due to their forest rich land and long tradition are true masters in wooden constructions. But there are quite some of us in Slovenia, architects, constructors and builders alike, that have committed ourselves to sustainable building. And we are prepared to study, to learn,… and to work hard. And I’d say we are catching up.

Since I recon, that photos I made, would tell the story much better than me, I opted for a photo blog this time, share with you some highlights of the trip.

 

 

Amazing, ultra modern, Liechtenstein parliament, completely mad of yellow bricks, fits into its historical surrounding perfectly.

 

 

Even the horizontal shades are made out of bricks. Usually I am a bit sceptic about forcing a material to be something it is not in its nature. But in this case the architects and building contractors did a great job.

 

 

Willem Brujin, an architect and managing partner at Baumschlager Eberle presented an old residential building on Waldburgstrasse (Nüziders) – one of the first made of wood in the area. Regardless of its, comparatively big size, it blends into the surrounding seamlessly. I’d say it is due to a fantastic volume composition and the usage of its facade made of natural materials (shingles).

 

 

But he raised even more interest by describing their company’s new headquarters – a truly passive building without any heating, cooling or ventilation machinery systems.
Although quite near, it was unfortunately impossible to squeeze the visit into our busy itinerary so it went on a must-see list for the next trip to that area.

 

 

When in our building regulations I read the sentence: “Aligned with local tradition and building typology” or/and “tuned to the local urban space”, all the alarm bells go. That kind of regulations are usually interpreted by authorities that one needs to copy the existing houses’ volumes and shapes. Fortunately Austrians know better and city center in Raggal is a beautiful example of that.

 

 

With its shape beautifully attuned to the place, pleasant and functional spaces, beautiful details and seamless transition of wooden elements from the wooden structure to the interior and finally to the furniture, architect Johannes Kaufmann proves once again that he is a true maestro of a wooden construction building.

 

 

Traditional Vorarlberg small, fish-scales-like shingles … one wanders how long it took to produce and mount them since each facade has countless number of them.

 

 

Horse riding hall with its beautiful spatial roof construction was an unexpected bonus of the trip to St. Gerold. Simple and elegant. I really need to use that kind of construction somewhere since it looks soooo sexy.

 

 

St. Gerold municipality center is yet another example of how one does not need to copy the traditional forms in order to make building which fits the place perfectly. Like in Raggal, the center is a smart multifunctional building housing many needs of small local community – from offices, grocery store, gathering hall to two kindergarten units.
And since the local carpenters said that there are only two kinds of flat roofs – the ones that leak instantly and the ones that would leak in two years, they opted to make two roofs – just to be on a safe side 😉

 

 

What is more, its multifunction extends outside since through the design concept and placement, a village acquired also a small public square as well as a playground.

 

 

Low-tech looking wooden shades are controlled by high-tech KNX smart installation systems (GIRA) in order to optimize the lightning and energy consumption for this green building made in passive energy standard.

 

 

Kindergarten spaces in wood finishes look so much more pleasant and warm that ordinary ones.

 

 

Raw wood was used for all the flooring and stairs… quite daring decision I’d say. But the final result is fantastic.

 

 

The staircase detail made us wandering how the hell did they mount those together?!

 

 

Nothing is left to coincidence – wooden hangers for wooden building.

 

 

Yet another nature friend building technique – a Leim Ton Erde company’s headquarters made of rammed clay, loam and soil. Horizontal brick layers prevent for the wall to be washed out.

 

 

The “back to basics” comes to mind when one visits the house made throughout of the very same material. Ass appalling as it some details might seem, I probably would not opt to build that way. But Swiss obviously thing differently since at this very moment, the new company’s headquarters and production hall for famous Ricola is being build in that technique.

 

 

How to paws a steep path in order to prevent one from slipping? Well, that is how! Pretty smart if you ask me.

 

 

Solid concrete pedestrian bridge bring to my mind the Peter Stutchbury saying: “With every building we make, we could do architecture as well.”

 

 

The municipality office and a firefighters station in Lorüns are a perfect example why sometimes it is wise to separate the non-compatible program into two buildings.

 

 

Drying tubes’ tows is also used as a training facility in the inside, as a electrical power plant on the outside and as a great volume composition element as well.

 

 

Raw concrete blocks’ wall made with highest precision. Simply beautiful.

 

 

Devil is in the details.
Nicely designed and subtly mounted house number on a forestation at Lorüns.

Matej Gašperič

Architect