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Layered Wooden Cubes – Three Family House in Riff Near Salzburg

Architektur Aktuell / Authorship with the publisher and Norbert Mayr

Many people want to be able to move around their own house. For many, it is also important that the sun path accompanies them throughout the day, if possible. The solution to these desires is not necessarily limited to the stand-alone single family home.

Architects Christine and Horst Lechner found another solution with their three family home in Rif near Salzburg. They not only planned a perfectly detailed structure of sculptural elegance but also created a structure that, with its penetration of cubes and open wood grid elements, is traversable. The energy saving residential building, with its expansive verandas, offers communal and individual living in a compact space. Spatial and technical services have been combined in perfect harmony


At the beginning, there was a detailed discussion with three builders who were found through newspaper advertisement. After this process, without linear plan drawings, everyone claimed their own space on 840 square meters lot. The basic concept developed from an optimal reaction to the potential of the irregular corner plot. The maisonette in the center has been lifted up a story and clamped between the two houses. Holzbau-Liegel was the timber company of a client in the Zillertal in Innsbruck. A series of 60-centimeter steel posts hold the weight of the basement. A strip of high windows running around the basement connects it to the houses and allows for natural light to illuminate the space and helps create the illusion that the structure is suspended. The two large apartments have large south-facing sliding glass doors that help bring the outdoors in. The apartments all have entrances to additional high-quality rooms located in the basement area and have access to a spiral staircase leading up to the roof area with a veranda. Several rows of solar panels, as well as space for later expansion cubes are found in the roof area.

One family in particular wanted to live close to the garden and received the larger garden share in connection with the ground floor living areas. The second family chose the living room on the upper floor. The large, sliding doors that open generously to the covered porches as extended outdoor living areas creates a sense of luxury living. The wooden floors further accentuate the space. Each of the two floors contains an attractive veranda with large glass doors. As a result of the close distance to the neighbors, the veranda is not orthogonal, but partially rather trapezoidal. This design attitude leads to a pleasantly relaxed resolution of rigid schemes, without inconsistencies or compromises. Residential quality through visual perspectives and through windows according to the overall use of space are, for the Lechners, much better than a dogmatically optimized solar yield or minimizing windows and outer surfaces. Nevertheless, the heating costs are only ATS 2500, - (EUR 182, -) per family. Measures include individual pellet stoves, solar water heating systems and solar-assisted heating systems, and partially controlled domestic ventilation with earth register preheating and heat exchangers. The gauge value of the windows is particularly good due to the glazing being pulled over the frames and windowsills. An interior plaster of magnesium-bound wood-wool panels improved both storage mass and indoor climate, in comparison to Rigips. Natural products were left untreated.

Due to good lighting - in addition to triple and quadruple glazing for windows and doors and 36 cm cellulose insulation - a large amount of energy-saving measures that are encouraged in Austria were successfully implemented in this construction. Due to the elegance of the formed cubed and gridded elements of the building, one does not necessarily suspect the energy-efficiency hidden within these 55 cm thick walls.The building is detailed with its flush, frameless windows and slender, horizontal larch wood slats

The three-story building in the center is due to a new development plan. The construction of the house led to a rebuilding of the area surrounding it, where the GFZ was committed to 0.6. The previously valid development plan could finally move forward due to wastepaper. These regulations were not simply limited to the roof and roof pitch. There were even rules regarding the wall surfaces - ground floor plastered; for the garden enclosure, wooden floors. 

The architects achieved a spatial differentiation between public street space, semi-public access, private garden, and the veranda through an essentially fenceless creation.

Thus, the inhibition of normal visitors – with the exception of architecture tourists - steadily increases towards the garden, despite the large window openings that guarantee privacy and the possibility of retreat. The protected space in the center promotes communication, encounters, and communal activities. The opening to the south with the casual gesture of the verandas to the garden promotes Mediterranean living, a sense of a breezy, cool existence. These characteristics end with another, barely newer neighboring house adjacently located to the south row house. The neighboring house also has "Southern" style in front of their space with Tuscan set pieces. This does not diminish the quality of the three-family house, which creates extraordinary space that can accommodate up to 13 people. However, the contemporary response to suburban urban sprawl with meaningful development density shows how important conception and location of individual buildings is for a common formulation and coordination of open spaces. Otherwise, there is a risk that valuable land will just become residential areas but without quality.  Hopefully, future-oriented, ecologically sophisticated buildings will provide a necessary impetus for promoting the still-neglected form of living in compacted low-rise buildings in Salzburg's central region.


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