Location: Rhine Valley, Austria
Architect: BERKTOLD WEBER ARCHITEKTEN
Architect: Berktold Weber Architekten
Building Company: Alpina Hausbau GmbH
Photographer: Adolf Bereuter
Text provided by the architect:
Above the valley, through which the river Ill insistently paves its sateless flow all the way to the Rhine, alongside a forest glade: a residential house, in the midst of a spectacular scenery of nature and its seemingly endless powers. To an area of other residential buildings which have seen various typographical and pragmatical imprints over the years, it adds a structure of gentle calmness, made of local material, built with local resources, compacted to provide modern living space for a local family. In some peculiar way, despite and because of these contrasts, the house fits into the environment in a natural way, as much as life needs diversity to prosper and survive among the stationary elements. Built onto the rock, the building unfolds a spacious landscape with its smart use of the area on two levels. With just a few nifty architectural gestures a place is created that provides protecting areas of retreat as well as rooms with generous openings towards the valley scape with its breath-taking panorama.
Via a protected entry along the hillside one accesses the house, and enters a space continuum, a sequence of intertwined inner and outer rooms: South-bound there is a spacious terrasse, preventing potential summer heat and extended into the interior space through generous vitrification. Next to the dining area there is another covered terrasse deck into the direction of south-west, with a gorgeous view towards the valley. The room leads to the upper garden area on the ground
floor. On the hillside, a landscaped interior with chimney and couches surround an inner courtyard like a fan. This exterior center in the middle of the interior is a contemplative element, which adapts to the season: it invites winter light to enter the room whereas in summer it moderates sun radiation through a beautiful green-top. The lower floor provides possibilities of retreat for the residents. Also here one can enter from the garden, closing several winding loops to enter and leave the property. This Moebius-type weaving into the landscape enforces the vibrant feeling of being (and) nature.
The massive base floor of fairfaced concrete carries, along the slope of the hill, the wooden living floor, itself encased and protected by a pulsating fan of silver fir lamella. A closer look reveals different degrees of transparency from the outside, which from the inside in turn can be perceived as a vital diversity of light and shadow, of openness and closedness, of reversing the source and its contrast.
The reduced-form yet full-fledged materialization generates quiescent clarity, and lets one feel nature and adapted development of room: silver fur tesselation on the outside wall and on the ceiling together with white elements of sheer separation contrast the powerful oak deals of the floor. It is in between these different quotation marks, those tempers of nature that residents can feel alive and put their footprint in more than just the literal sense.
All this could be realized with emphasis on ecologically sustainable construction: the (low) need for thermal heat is covered by geothermal energy, complemented by a storage heater in the living room and a controlled ventilation, whereas photo-voltaics take care of electricity needs. It goes without saying that all this artwork out of natural building elements is achieved with the handicraft and expertise of local craftsmen, and under full consideration of recompactification aspects, complementing an already subdued neighborhood.