29.10.2014 Jana Hampe

Silver times ahead: Nursing home in Austria

In 2009, the community of Nenzing in Vorarlberg, western Austria, held a Europe-wide competition for the design of a new nursing home, whereby the pure-lined and rustic proposal by the Graz architect Graz Dietger Wissounig found favour. Five years later, in August 2014, the ultra-low-energy ensemble was taken into use.

Dietger Wissounig, Graz
Location: Bahnhofstr. 25, 6710 Nenzing, Vorarlberg, Austria
The clearly-articulated building is made up of two different units, each harbouring a residential group. On the upper floors the silver fir slat façade makes a relatively closed-off impression, relieved in part by the irregular articulation of a number of the window openings. This compact upper section rests on a ground floor recessed to form a circumferential arcade that is enclosed in places and which provides space for general-use areas such as the dining room and rooms for day care or gatherings.
The inner organisation of the building was arrived at in a patient development process carried out in collaboration with the management of the home. For both sides it was particularly important to realise the visions of the staff regarding care of the elderly.
Each unit has eight to ten residential care flats grouped around a central living area, thus shortening distances for both the residents and the care personnel. At the same time a circulation loop ensures variety and opportunities for movement. Two-storey heated atrium “gardens" ensure that daylight is able to enter the more interior parts of the buildings and at the same time provide inside through views while facilitating orientation.

The layout inside the individual rooms was inspired by small apartments made up of a living room and bedroom. Accordingly the resulting residential care flats offer a small living room with a window, a bedroom and bathroom, yet need little more space than a standard nursing home room.
Taken together, the concept behind the ground plans and the choice of building material have resulted in an open and respectful structure that creates a pleasant environment for both residents and carers. The compactness of the building and the silvery look that the lively façade has gained from the choice of wood material communicate these positive characteristic to the surroundings.
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