House by the fens 2013
Krumbach | Austria

Mies van der Rohe Award 2015 – Nomination
7. BTV Bauherrenpreis für Tirol und Vorarlberg 2013 – Prize
best architect 14 Award 2013 – Prize
Internationaler Weißtannenpreis 2013 – Prize
Vorarlberger Holzbaupreis 2013 – Prize
Das Beste Haus 2013 – Nomination

Task: House with a studio
Client: Private
Tender: Direct

Architecture: Bernardo Bader Architects
Team: Sven Matt, Maximilian Kirchmann, Philipp Bechter
Site manager: Bernardo Bader Architekten
Structural engineer: Günther Hammerer
Photographs: Adolf Bereuter | Dornbirn, Jörg Seiler | Köln, Markus Bstieler
Floor space: 270m²
Energy: big stove, geothermal heat pump with depth probe; 25 kWh/m²a
Structure: Core zone in concrete, preassembled construction for highly insulated external elements

The last house in the village

The place where we were born, raised a family and now have the opportunity to erect a residential and studio building will reflect the values of all involved. This requires both distance and closeness, distinctly expressed by the house itself. A large wet bedding meadow bordering the woods had been reassigned by our grandfather as building land. The new structure constituted the western border of the settlement. While the entire range of possibilities were not exhausted, there are also no plans to build more in the future. Scaled back to the prototypical idea of a long house with a longitudinal pitched roof, the edifice architecturally accentuates the foreground, the reception area and the point of arrival, the mid section and the background. Spatially it delineates the hamlet that faces the adjoining woodland. The slightly raised, airy, covered threshing floor projecting out onto ground level anchors the structure to its rural surroundings and makes it feel like living as one with nature. While a one-and-a-half-story-high structure to the right with a garage around the back can be used as a studio and an additional apartment, a spacious residential wing opens up to the left, facing south and extending to just below the roof. It exudes comfort and a sense of security, while drawing the gaze into the distance through its windows. Elm, fir and dark, smooth concrete surfaces create a beautiful effect. A space-creating staircase provides access to the more intimate, snugly-arranged bedroom level. Light from the east and west frames the shared view of the sky for these rooms.

The wood was sourced from the privately-owned woods in Schwarzenberg; cut, sawn and assembled according to the correct moon cycle. A total of 60 spruces, firs and elm trees, applied in ways that all parts – not only the premium cuts – were used in the construction of structural parts, walls, doors, the floor structure and floorboards. No composite wall or gypsum plasterboard panels were used in the construction. All doors, the kitchen and many items of furniture are crafted from solid wood. If work time is seen as quality and an added value of “doing”, then it will translate into a cost advantage. During the excavation works, usable brick clay was found at a depth of one meter. It was used to press bricks, which were later air-dried. The grooves between the bricks house the floor heating pipes which are covered by a delicate rough-sawn fir flooring.

This project seeks to preserve the character and stringency of a house typical for the Bregenzerwald region of which I am so fond, while creating a contemporary spatial feel.  This house by the fens is our live-in vessel.