maria flöckner und hermann schnöll
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zenzmaier house and studio in kuchl-strubau

    a good throw of the dice
    norbert mayr / architektur aktuell / 12/2002

    a new home for a young artist's family and a studio, both built in the grounds of the parents' house, which once stood almost entirely alone but will soon be lapped by a sea of banal single-family housing. the brief, within the context of the aggressive aesthetic of the building "culture" that characterises suburbia everywhere, demanded a clever solution from the architects, one which was granted building permission by the authorities.

    the architects, maria flöckner und hermann schnöll, positioned the house and photographer’s atelier, located in the salzburg district of tennengau, with great precision in the garden of the paternal house and studio: the two wood clad elements are slightly swivelled away from the surrounding houses. visual connections to the parents’ house were retained where possible. the careful positioning of the windows means that the neighbouring buildings are screened from view and creates differentiated references to the landscape and outdoor space. the budgetary corset was extremely tight but the intelligent economic design of the basic structure allowed investment in high-quality cladding and large areas of glazing.
    the home and studio building of the well-known sculptor josef zenzmaier, the oldest parts of which date from around 1900, was, until a few decades ago, one of the few buildings in strubau, which lies to the southeast of kuchl. when the decision was made to build a house and photographer’s studio in the garden of the old house, the site had already become a vacant lot in a developed district. the studio was oriented towards strubaugasse; the house swivelled slightly away from the surrounding houses creating a loosely defined courtyard, the centre of the garden, kept free of buildings. together with the open garden towards the parents’ house an ensemble with a rich diversity of relationships was created. a gravel path along the site boundary leads to the entrance – the architects speak of the courtyard to the south of the house as a ’sun garden’ (winter garden) and the area to the north of the house, in the direction of the meadow, as a ’shadow garden’ (summer garden). in the course of the year the validity of these definitions is borne out.

    uninterrupted view
    despite the closeness of the neighbours the precise placing of the buildings and their careful fenestration formulates visual relationships to the mountain ranges and screens off the surrounding buildings. one can enjoy a calm sequence of three views from the dining table: the parents’ orchard, the enclosure of the atrium bordered by the studio building and, finally, the meadow with grazing sheep. the wall openings: vertical, recumbent horizontal and then again vertical, draw the outdoors and the landscape into the house. a pleasant domestic athmosphere is created by the light-brown shades of the sealed screed floor and the osb panels that form the internal cladding to the prefabricated timber panel structure. the fair-faced concrete walls and floor slabs were given a surface pattern by the rectangular boards of the shuttering. vertical voids from the living room to the upper floor, flanked by full-height glazing, as well as light grilles to the basement create unusual lighting effects and spatial relationships. the house is extremely compact; the transitions between inside and outside visually extend the real floor area of the rooms on the upper level. these are individual cell-like private spaces connected by vertical voids to the spatial continuum of the communal spaces at ground floor level.
    whereas the studio was designed entirely as a timber panel structure, the house employs a mix of structural systems. the spine is formed by a concrete wall. together with in situ concrete floor slabs resting on steel stanchions, this heat storage mass stabilises the temperature of the house in summer. the clients, who have lived in the building for a year, have not found it necessary to consider solar protection for the almost six metre high window openings on the east and west sides. in addition, the generously dimensioned basement is intended as a cool refuge during the summer heat.

    economic cubes of larch
    three generations live in the ensemble of this little ’village’ - the old house dominated by the personality of the father, the studio containing a minimal apartment and the new house. the needs for communication and spatial distance are carefully balanced. the children have an alternative route to their bedrooms via modified attic ladders. the two wooden cubes are veiled by a harmonious layer of larch; a roof projection reduced to a minimum protects the vertical wooden boarding over six metres long. the window reveals and the way they are placed show that the building developed from the inside out, the projection to the north gives the building a sculptural, three dimensional quality.
    the budgetary pressure was considerable: despite net completion costs of only 1,078 eur/m2 the architects managed to combine highly individual requirements for the home with high-quality design. the surfaces of the basic structure and the materials were chosen and used intelligently, so that additional surface finishes could be dispensed with and the money that was saved could be invested in space, the high-quality cladding to the building and large window openings.

    the artist’s prestige versus ’heimatschutz’
    a project of this kind without a so-called proper roof can (and remember this is 2002) still lead to hefty tremors in the council chambers of the region. when they do not wish to make a decision themselves the salzburg local politicians or the local mayor tend to pass the buck and call in so-called district architects or local design advisory bodies. hardly any of these bodies, however, has the ambition to follow in the footsteps of the famed design advisory committee of the city of salzburg. on the contrary: instead of promoting architecture there is often just a demand for a standard pitched roof. many of the state-employed experts and the often feared district architects even still have their intellectual home in the so called ’heimatschutzarchitektur’ (buildings which aped traditional, ’native’ forms) dating from the period between the wars or directly after the second world war.
    in the case of the building of the zenzmaier house the official responsible for technical aspects of building in the tennengau district referred in friendly tones to the ”contemporary design“ that takes into account ”the native material pine“. the mention that, from the road, the ”house is not visible“ is in itself significant. ”the existing character of the local buildings does not prohibit a modern contemporary design. the two buildings are planned for the zenzmaier family of artists and have therefore been given a special form.“ the reputation of the well-known sculptor josef zenzmaier was certainly of considerable assistance in this project’s happily uncomplicated passage through the process of applying for building permission. unfortunately such an easy birth for modern architecture can by no means taken for granted in the province of salzburg.

    technical data

    client: brigitte & stefan zenzmaier
    planning: maria flöckner und hermann schnöll
    site supervision: bmstr. ing. bernhard schnöll

    consultants: rüsch, diem, schuler, dornbirn / structural engineering // e-plus planungsteam, egg / energy consult

    realization: lienbacher holzbauwerk, kuchl / timber construction // westerthaler baugesellschaft, bischofshofen / concrete core & flooring // georg schönleitner, kuchl / windows, doors

    usable floor area: 237m2
    cubage: 1.086m3

    start of planning: 1/2000
    start of construction: 5/2001
    completion: 12/2001

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