Location: Pettenbach, Almtal, Austria
Architect: Klaus Klaas Loenhart
Client: Grüne Erde BeteiligungsgmbH
Material: Concrete, Glass, Wood
Design date: 2015
Completion date: 2020
Site area: 64500m2
Built area: 9390m2
Project architects & Landscape design: terrain: integral designs BDA
Team: Klaus K. Loenhart, Katharina Hengel, Claudia Pittino, Clara Hamann, Maria Fellinger, Kathi Zull, Zoe Yan Zou, Paul Frick, Ondrej Hanuz
Site Supervision: ARKADE ZT GmbH (Klaus Landerl, Gabriel Trinkl, Manfred Leitgeb)
Building Physics: transsolar Munich (Wolfgang Kessling, Dietmar Geiselmann, Daniel Kiehlmann)
Structural Conception: terrain: integral designs BDA (Klaus K. Loenhart, Paul Frick)
Structural Engineering: Bauplan Service GmbH Herzogsdorf
Furniture: archibrand and terrain: integral designs BDA
Photographer: Jan Schuenke / gruene erde / terrain: integral designs BDA
Text provided by the architect:
GRÜNE ERDE - Breathing Headquarters
Plant-Powered Bioclimatic Design
A plant-based design approach that introduces breathing into buildings. A sensual and atmospheric space that is literally breathing in oxygen, originating from its vegetated courtyards.
In the breathing headquarters of Grüne Erde, a large-scale "climatic and atmospheric natural performance" premiers for the climate, ventilation and cooling concept, based on our concept for the Austrian Pavilion 2015 in Milan.
Extensive air conditioning technology is replaced by forest and plant communities that develop their climatic and atmospheric "plant performance" in 13 courtyards. This is because the plant communities create distinct microclimates, provide natural light and supply the entire interior spaces with fresh oxygen.
While wood as a building material plays a central role as a renewable resource, this approach is supported by the almost complete (98%) replacement of petroleum-based building materials. How does the working staff relate to this building? And how do the visitors experience it? The working and visiting atmosphere is most characterized by the daylight-flooded interior. Here, the time of day, the weather and the lighting mood become tangible for the workers and visitors at any moment. Employees and guests thank this noticeably natural atmosphere with appreciation and high lengths visits.
Active Ecological Landscape
It is crucial that our project approach does not end at the building facade. A large meadow in the Almtal valley welcomes visitors to the Grüne Erde hearquarters with a diverse landscape of fruit trees and large native shrubs: 450 trees up to seven meters high and around 700 shrubs of exclusively native varieties have been planted in the former corn fields. According to the CSA principle of "community supported agriculture", a company initiated farm it is run by the local initiative ‘Almgruen’. In two greenhouses, vegetables are grown for the company's own bistro, and visitors can also experience the germination and growth of the plant raw materials used in Grüne Erde products. The surrounding orchards are planted with different old fruit varieties and are largely left in their natural state to allow insects to overwinter, among other things.
Eating the Sun
Let us take a look at one possible future: it is plant-based, petroleum-free, socially just and ecologically sound. It is about living and connecting to fellow humans and to our alive environment — to rethink given standards in design, material use, energy usage and bio-climatic design of large structures. How can we think it all together?
The company GRÜNE ERDE specialises in the development and manufacture of products in which ecological, sustainable thinking and action are fundamental - with special consideration of socially just trade and material chains of renewable resources.
Our design philosophy fits well with these principles - because they combine human needs with the ecology of our living environment. With the Green Earth Breathing Headquarters project, given standards in terms of design, material consumption, energy consumption and the bioclimatic impact of large structures were subsequently questioned – and redefined.
As a world-premiere, "climatic and atmospheric plant performance" will be applied on a large scale as a climate, ventilation and cooling concept, in line with our concept for the Austrian pavilion 2015 in Milan. This involves replacing extensive building services equipment with planting yards and their performance. An example of future bioclimatic architecture through systemic innovation.
A Breathing Headquarter – A Plant-Based Systems Design
Biophilia in Design,
Plant-Powered Systems Design
GRUENE ERDE has specialized on designing and producing products that are driven by a most ecological, sustainable thinking and business practice – all that with a close look on socially fair trading and material chains of re-growing resources. The philosophy of our design matches within these given premises — this is about living and connecting to fellow humans and to our alive environment — to rethink given standards in design, material use, energy usage and bio-climatic design of large structures. How can we think it all together?
We answer in designing an entire ecosystem. A systems design approach that introduces breathing into buildings. A sensual and atmospheric space that is literally breathing in oxygen originating from its vegetated courtyards. Plant-performance providing fresh clean air and oxygen to breathe, while cooling all spaces and fully substituting conventional climate machines. A design that is 99% petroleum free and powered by renewable energy from 100% on-site resources. The end of air-conditioning as we know it and a beginning for a new kind of co-habitation on our planet Earth.
Bio-Climatic and Sensual
Like inverted clearings in a forest, the interior landscape of the new GRÜNE ERDE headquarters is structured by thirteen patios allowing daylight to impact our way we sensually experience our daily working and living environment. Here, individual plant communities of nine Austrian living forest ecotopes provide oxygen and microclimate, sensual experiences and great comfort, for people, flora and fauna to thrive.
A sequence of breathing spaces has been created, whose richly planted climatic courtyards provide air to breathe. Wooden columns standing freely as if in a forest, high wooden ceilings, the changing play of light, sometimes confined, sometimes wide and open, constantly changing visual references. A walk through the Gruene Erde interiors is reminiscent of a walk through the forest, providing impressions that don't need to be analyzed in a great way, but that simply come about, that you feel and enjoy.
At the Breathing Headquarters of Gruene Erde, for the first time, large-scale "climatic and atmospheric plant performance" is being applied for the climate, ventilation and cooling concept, based on our concept for the Austrian Pavilion 2015 in Milan.
In 13 courtyards the forest plant-communities are unfolding their climatic and atmospheric “plant-performance”. They are creating a microclimate, provide natural, living light and provide air and fresh oxygen for the entire ventilation. In the process, extensive building services equipment have been replaced by forest-plant-communities and their performance. The atriums actually allow the building to breathe in and out organically, producing cool air when needed and oxygen to breathe in in their climate performance! In this way, the atriums actually allow the building to breathe in and out organically.
A living work environment
How will the working staff relate to this building? And how will the visitors experience it? Our goal - as enrichment! The working atmosphere in the textile processing plant is most characterized by the daylight-flooded interior. Here, the time of day, the weather and the lighting mood become tangible for the workers at any moment. How does it feel to have living treescape right in front of your eyes while working? And what about the building materials that do not emit any harmful substances? The smiling faces of the employees speak for themselves. As sick leave drops to almost zero, it becomes obvious that the vibrant aliveness of this living interiour "communicates" most positively.
A working organic landscape
Upon arrival and with ones own instantaneous deceleration, one can experience the buzzing of the organic bee- and nutrient pasture that was transformed from a plain corn field. Instead of creating a representative interspace, an organic farm with organic vegetable gardens is now integrated directly in front of the Gruene Erde headquarter. According to the CSA principle of "community supported agriculture", it is run by the local initiative ‘Almgruen’ to enjoy meals made of local vegetables and fruit directly in the vegetarian Gruene Erde Bistro.
A piece of horizon
Almost like a reflecting lake. A piece of horizon made of glass shingles determines the surprising first impression upon arrival at the Gruene Erde site. One is first occupied with sensually experiencing the organic aliveness of the grounds of the headquarter, as just the sky, trees and landscape are in front of one's eyes. Quite surprisingly, this main façade is then not a representative means, but part of the concept of experiencing the building within its natural embeddedness.
For this matter, the different angles of inclination of the glass shingles help to experience the liveliness of natural setting, the wider landscape, its sky and clouds in changing weather and different light moods. One’s own movement in front of the shingles makes the landscape most tangible. Robert Smithson's land art projects Ithaka Mirror Trail and Mirror Displacement were in a sense the inspiration for this translation. Turned into a facade, the reflecting mirror-facets do not form a pictorial continuum, but rather act as a medium with which we can experience the landscape on a level related to our senses.
Energetic and Economic Balance
Organic and smart versus expensive. The Breathing Headquarters of Gruene Erde is - and this is our preference - plant-based and purely relies on renewable raw materials: from the building material of timber, to a plant-based climate concept, through the entire Gruene Erde product range and organic farming around the building, to the vegetarian-biological bistro. Added to this is the complete ecological energy supply through geothermal and photovoltaic energy. Surprisingly, the costs of the project are not higher than those of a comparable conventional project. This is mainly due to the fact that the principle of climatic performance through the planted inner courtyards has halved the building services costs. A successful ‘proof of concept’ that plant-based innovation can take place in a cost-neutral way.
In this place, all this is inseparably connected with the health and vitality of planet earth.
Wood construction, facade: Obermayr Holzkonstruktionen GmbH
Roof: Innocente GesmbH
Construction (massive): Lehner Josef e.U.
Windows: Kupfmüller Bau GmbH&CoKG
Electrical services: Elektro Kremsmair GmbH
Sanitation,heating, ventilation: Ing. Dietmar Waser GmbH
Flooring: Fussboden Pammer e.U.
Painting: Luckeneder GmbH
Gardeners: Ökoplant GmbH