Comfort in the Third Millennium

 

Wüstenrot MAGAZIN / Authorship with the publisher    

 

A new generation of wooden houses have presented themselves as not at all old-fashioned, but rather architecturally extravagant and innovative in terms of energy management. They combine the proven advantages of this classic building material with modern technology 

 

It is actually remarkable: Although wood is used as a building material by most Austrians and immediately associated with terms such as “comfort”, its actual overall use in building a house is still relatively low. Of the currently one hundred newly built houses, only about 10% are predominantly and about 30% partially built with wood.

 

Wood is not only a biologically perfect and natural building material (the use of which secures the existence of farmers and forest enterprises and thus, the preservation of our alpine cultural landscape), it also meets all requirements for contemporary building and living. However, demand is clearly on the rise, especially since wood can also be used universally for dense low-rise construction (i.e. for terraced and semi-detached houses). 

 

Avantgarde and Wood

 

A prime example of this new generation of wooden houses is located near Salzburg in the Hallein district of Riff, where the architects Christine and Horst Lechner from Salzburg have created a triple residential property to house three separate families. The decisive factor in using wood as the material for the project came from a common desire for untreated natural materials, spacious verandahs and a comfortable living atmosphere in conjunction with low energy costs.

 

It was agreed, however, that the house would look “light, friendly and cozy, but by no means be rustic.” Based on the common goals, each of the three families was able to turn their own individual living concept into a reality. The result is a combination of two different size family houses with a smaller, middle house for a single person, or a couple.

Due to the special arrangement of the objects, it is possible, in contrast to conventional terraced houses, to avoid any component such as a detached house. Despite the common basic size of only 850 m2, this resulted in spacious and very private gardens, which are also connected directly to the living area by means of verandas. These covered porches (177 m2), in view of the relatively high rainfall of our climate, provide usable and high-quality living spaces that have become indispensable to the residents within a very short space of time.

 

The open middle section passageway under the raised residential unit is designed for communal use and as a daily meeting point. It also provides access to the apartment, garden, and cellar. This covered open space also allows neighborhood-promoting events such as garden parties, activities, games, and more.

Sophisticated Insulation Details

Last but not least, this timber construction is notable for its low energy use. This building, which was actually built in the passive house standard, was changed to a low-energy house with 29 W / m2 heating load per year. The desire for efficient energy use and cost has been effective and the energy cost amounts to around € 2,500 per year for each family.

 

The interior wall surfaces and ceilings are made with 50 mm, or 50 + 70 mm, plasterboard planks with magnesia bonded wood wool battens and 15 mm plaster. This increases the thermal mass of the walls in terms of wind resistance and temperature and humidity regulation, which in turn increases the aura and comfort of the living space.

 

The window surfaces are also very interesting. Designed with triple glazing and flush on the outer facade (totaling 27% of the façade surface), these windows open  up the space to nature. The large, thermally insulated glass extends outwards over the windowsill and thus, prevents the frequent cold bridges between facade integration and window sill, which also protects it against weathering. Thanks to corresponding technology, the window elements can still be opened in any room. The front doors were provided with a fourth glass pane and the air space causes an additional insulation of the door surface.

 

The architect controls the oversight of detailed planning and skillful execution. This is, of course, crucial in this form of construction. Thus, during construction, the building exteriors were subjected to a tightness check by means of overpressure and underpressure with measurement and subsequent reworking of leaks. And infrared cameras were used to check thermal bridges in the constructions and transitions.

Spatial refinements / Utilizing the Cellar:  

 

The basement was completely redesigned, as it represents the last unchangeable reserve of a family with a small basic proportion. The floating arrangement of the building and a base band made of glass (also for opening) ensure that the rooms are filled with sunlight. They become bright and comfortable; moreover, the improved surface temperatures of the components largely prevent the basement from overheating in the summer. A turnaround of living spaces: The orientation of the living rooms and the veranda were chosen so that the families can have some privacy. The living area on the ground floor, where is usually is, but rather on the upper floor with a veranda and thus, is hidden from view. At the same time, through the open view of the landscape and the use of the large porch, the sense of free, open space is maintained. The children's rooms on the ground floor have direct access to the garden via the wooden terrace.

The Preparation of Inlier Apartments: 

 

Later changes to the structure of the house are possible due to additional structures on the roofs. The provided fasteners in the roof can either connect these rooms to the existing living spaces or they can be accessed through the verandas as separate spaces. Since access to the basement is directly from the covered open middle section with a second entrance, a separate living unit or secondary suite is also possible in this area.

WÜSTENROT 2000

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