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Perch above the trees 

Architectural office Lechner & Lechner

(We translated the original text from German to English)

Architectural office Lechner & Lechner has realized a single-family house above Salzburg. Christine Lechner explains how the team, which has been designing wooden buildings and low-energy houses for many years, tackled the task.

What is special about this construction project?

Definitely in an unusual building site: the property is on a hillside above the city of Salzburg. You have a wonderful view of the almost endless mountain landscape. At the same time, the building site is located at the transition between town and country. In the background there are forests, in the foreground is the old town of Salzburg. The hillside location also gave us the opportunity to design a building that makes the topography tangible, creates a strong connection to the outside space and enables beautiful distant views. It was a great pleasure for us to be able to find a suitable architectural answer for this exciting context.

What is the inspiration behind this project?

The project is based on a raised hide. This tapers in the direction of distant views in order to make the picturesque surroundings tangible from every room. With materiality and form we have reacted to the aforementioned transitional position between town and country. We wanted to place traditional materials in a field of tension with modern ones. The shingle facade and the walls in solid wood construction were left on sight and meet components made of polished exposed concrete and raw metal railings. This creates a strong tension and at the same time radiates cosiness.

How did the place affect the design?

As I have already explained, the hillside location and the transitional position between town and country have had a decisive influence on the design. The lack of horizontal surfaces inspired us to create the covered "piazza" in front of the house. In addition to the horizontal forecourts, the mountain backdrop also had a strong impact on the shape. The building is tapered to allow beautiful views from as many seats as possible, even from the bathtub. When you enter the house, this drama is deliberately hidden in the hallway. Only on the living floor does it appear all the more striking.

To what extent did the client, the client or the later users influence the design?

The project is tailor-made for the client. The sequence of rooms and the room program were worked out together with her. The design wishes of our client - for example a round, glazed opening in the canopy inspired by Andrew Heller in the Anima Garden in Marrakech - also contributed to the formal appearance. In addition, during the project work, joint consideration was given to which lines of sight should be strengthened and which should be hidden.

Were there any significant project changes from initial design to the completed structure?

The project continued to be refined during the design process. There were different variants that were very similar in terms of the basic architectural intention, but dealt with privacy and openness differently. The changes to the design concerned visual axes or relationships. Where should the house open up and where not?

How does the building fit into the row of existing office buildings?

In our office we have been dealing with the reinterpretation of timber construction and sustainable building itself for a long time. If you like, our starting point was the atrium house "Kuchl" in the early 1990s, which we built as a timber frame construction. In the years that followed, various projects followed, in the course of which we were able to implement various wooden buildings and low-energy houses. With regard to the choice of materials, the »predecessors« of the project are the boarding school extension to the LWS Winkelhof made of cross laminated timber panels and the private house »F&A« with its clapboard cladding. And the subject of visual relationships can be found in this drama above all in the amorphous sculpture at the pond in Salzburg, whose form was derived from the visual axes and which was erected in a timber frame construction.

Did current energetic, constructive or design tendencies influence the project? 

One could now criticize that it is a single family home. The problems that this typology entails are well known. The project fits into the current tendencies of social discourse, but was designed independently of this in an ecological way. As an architectural office, we have been dealing with timber construction and the greening of our projects since the early 1990s, and with this design we are building on a long tradition of energy-saving projects.

What product or material contributed to the success of the completed structure?

The mixture of timber construction, walls made of exposed concrete and raw iron creates excitement and comfort at the same time. Structurally, all components in contact with the ground are made of reinforced concrete. The remaining walls and ceilings as well as the entire upper floor are made of wood. Depending on the structural requirements, steel girders and steel columns were used to support the structure. None of this is hidden, but all elements are deliberately shown in their raw beauty.

»Perch above the trees«
Detached house with granny flat
order type
Architectural office Lechner & Lechner, Salzburg
project management: Mag. Christine Lechner
specialist planner 
statics: DI Thomas Forsthuber, Salzburg
year of completion
Significantly involved entrepreneurs 
builder: Bauunternehmung Steiner GmbH, Schwemmberg
carpenter: Holzform Holzbau GmbH, Gschwand
Plumber: Werner Steiner Installationen GmbH, Hallein
Melissa Zgouridi


link to online article

to the project

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