House in the field 2010
Sulz | Austria

Vorarlberger Holzbaupreis 2011 | Prize
Das Beste Haus 2011 | Prize

Task: House
Client: Private
Tender: Direct

Architecture: Bernardo Bader Architects
Team: Sven Matt, Dietmar Fetz
General contractor: Berchtold Holzbau
Structural engineer: Berchtold Holzbau
Photos: Adolf Bereuter
Plot area: 600 m²
Floor space: 170 m²
Energy: Low-energy standard, geothermal heat pump with depth probe, stove, 45 kWh/m²a
Structure: Timber construction

A well-tempered courtyard house

The level corner-plot borders a growing settlement with small plots of land located at the edges of the municipality of Sulz where development transitions into the agricultural green zone. It is surrounded by highly-frequented walking paths that lead to the nearby recreational area along the Frutz river. The guiding motto of the design was to create a high quality of living enabled by a closed courtyard on a relatively small plot that is shielded from external views.

The result is an appealing alternative to the single-family home typical for the Rhine Valley in Voralberg with its three-meter “residual green space” and DIY landscaping attempts. Striving to provide convincing solutions for future densification, the house subtly echoes the themes of agricultural buildings, in which the courtyard also appears to seamlessly merge with the interior. With its assertive position, both confident and at the same time carefully placed, the house creates appeal with strong references to its surroundings. The clear basic form of the pitched-roof house is spatially enhanced by the inserted courtyard, which integrates a large part of the outdoor area into the private, intimate living context of the whole complex. The courtyard can open out to the landscape via large sliding shutters as desired, framing views of the Swiss alps in the background. When the shutters are closed, they shield from prying glances while allowing the outdoors to be enjoyed in a protected space. Sheltered outdoor spaces can be used come rain, shine or fog.

The rational layout engages with the surrounding landscape via strategically placed openings in the facade.  The ground floor features a north- and east-facing angular living area with kitchen and dining corner as well as ancillary rooms and a car parking space. Large sliding windows to the inner courtyard blend the interior with the exterior. A partially roofed-over wooden terrace encompasses the lawn where a tree is growing at the center through the open roof. The bedroom, bathroom and work spaces on the top floor feature large windows opening out to the courtyard.

The limited choice of materials – wooden floors and paneling alongside white in-built furniture – infuse the open and spacious home with a regenerative air of tranquility.