10.03.2013 Peter Popp

Sensitive Materialisation: Low-Energy House Gemini+

The idea of developing a wood-concrete composite construction, which can be used both as ceiling and closed wall, was a direct result of the specification to build in a simple and resource-saving manner. This system was extended experimentally and combined with the qualities of translucent multi-wall polycarbonate sheets, which are permeable enough to light to permit living with the seasons.

Architects: AL1 ArchitektInnen, bauchplan landschaftsarchitektur & urbanismus, grundstein, Peter Kneidinger
Location: Weissenbach 117, A–2371 Weissenbach / Niederösterreich (Lower Austria)
The plot, located in the southern Wienerwald (Vienna Woods), is slightly lower than the main road in the north, and extends some 35 meters to the south, where it borders on meadows. The clients insisted on retaining the idyllic growth of trees. The final shape of the building incorporates existing clearings and striking tree collections and combines these with the new constructions to create a habitable room sequence. This results in a complex living environment, with the typology of a house in a village environment supplemented by a vital element.
Two L-shaped structures engaging in a dialogue with one another were created. By turning one of these by 90 degrees, a weather-protected courtyard situation is established between the two buildings. On a basement level, the structures are connected to each other, as regulations only permitted one house per plot.
The concept for the low-energy house was developed by a close collaboration of all the parties involved in the planning. Jointly discussed issues resulted in theories reflecting the idea of the building:

"Children don't want an own room in most phases of development. An open room sequence is therefore a fundamental principle. The individual rooms can be separated, but closure of individual zones is of secondary priority."

"A bathroom can be a walk-through room. Bathing is a central part of life. The bathing area is accessible from the kitchen as well as the living area. Openness again has higher priority over a hermetic separation of functions."

"Flowing rooms and a home to run around in – controllable and variable. The ordering of interior spaces is obviously Loos-inspired. A window combines three functions: the visual connection between inside and outside, illumination and ventilation. These three functions can be fulfilled in three elements."
"A house for living in does not need a conventional visual pattern, does not need a recognisable entrance, and does not need an evident division into storeys."

"Building is done on an auto-didactic basis with limited advance craftsmanship skills with integration of local professionals. The building phase therefore becomes a conscious (learning) process using specific methods and avoiding the use of big machines when possible."

"The design principle of the construction is: elevation = floor plan = section. The timber-concrete composite construction functions as ceiling, closed wall, as well as light-permeable support element. To protect the existing trees, the wood-concrete composite walls were cast stacked on the base plate, and folded up one after the other as required. The materialisation is a symbiosis of locally or regionally obtained objects, such as wood from the Wienerwald for the construction, loam from the excavation for the heated floor, or hemp from the Czech Republic as insulating material. Traditional techniques are combined with industrial and technological solutions, such as the acrylic double-wall sheet façade, to create a low-energy house."
AL1 ArchitektInnen, bauchplan, grundstein, Peter Kneidinger
Plot area: 1,034 m²
Usable area: 410 m²
Built-up area: 224 m²
Building volume: 1,230 m³
Completion: 8/2010

Client: Marie-Theres Okresek, Tobias Baldauf
Planning: AL1 ArchitektInnen, bauchplan, grundstein, Peter Kneidinger
Project management: Peter Kneidinger, Tobias Baldauf
Team: Marie-Theres Okresek, Nicole Heiss, Irene Prieler, Michael Wildmann, Josef Rott
Statics: Peter Kneidinger
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