© Architekturwerkstatt Dworzak-Grabher / DarkoTodorovic
Wood construction & Facades

United instead of isolated

With this house in Vorarlberg, the architectural workshop Dworzak Grabher has brought three generations under one roof - just as it used to be. The many advantages of living together instead of isolated can be imagined by anyone who occasionally goes on holiday, has spent a night or two with a newborn baby on their hands, or simply thinks about energy costs.

© Architekturwerkstatt Dworzak-Grabher / DarkoTodorovic
© Architekturwerkstatt Dworzak-Grabher / DarkoTodorovic
© Architekturwerkstatt Dworzak-Grabher / Fred Boehringer
© Architekturwerkstatt Dworzak-Grabher / Fred Boehringer

Many things are easier when living together under one roof. It starts already when building. "Building together brings cost savings for construction and maintenance and an efficient handling of ground and resources. Living side by side and together also creates a lively neighbourhood." This is how architect Stephan Grabher summarises the ideas he has realized architecturally for the Lingg and Grabher families - thus including himself. Nine people aged between one and 71 live in one building and under one roof. They are together and yet the architect has shown and realised "appropriate respect for the legitimate demands of individual privacy and today's living needs." This is the reason given by the jury for the Vorarlberg Timber Construction Prize, won by the multiple-family building in the "Mixed Construction" category. Mixed construction because it also harmoniously unites apparent opposites on the material level: wood and concrete.

Changeable

The visible floor slab is made of concrete. On it stands a solid construction, also made of concrete and masonry plastered with lime. The roof and facade of the building are made of wood. The atmosphere of the interiors is also created by this change between materials: the ceilings are made of rough exposed concrete on the ground floor and elegant white fir on the upper floor. The staircase leading up is made of warm oak, the walls are also left in raw concrete. The wooden building envelope on the outside works like a compass within the landscape, because it is oriented by the cardinal points: The weather-exposed outer shell in the north is dark, closed and vertical. The water-based greying finish Lignovit Platin in the colour onyx black protects it from damaging environmental influences, it reflects and plays with the sun and light conditions - depending on the time of day and the season. Grabher's design here once again takes up the link between opposites: The house entrances, protected by canopies, are bright cut-outs in the dark front. The facade to the south is also covered by a canopy, so that in this case the white fir was laid horizontally and with open joints and remained untreated. The more exposed balconies, on the other hand, are glazed in dark silver.

Connecting

Stephan Grabher has placed a "tuft" on the upper floor, which acts simultaneously as a separating and connecting element. The free space underneath was initially used as a garage for all non-motorised vehicles such as bicycles, trailers, scooters, etc. "It was designed as a spatial reserve for an extension, and in fact the upper part was already extended this year, as my sister has had a child," explains the architect. The large family continues to grow and the "old-fashioned" house, which couldn't be more in step with the times, grows with it. The concept of cross-generational building inspired the jury of the Timber Construction Prize: "Nothing speaks against a single-family house, everything against it being free-standing. Only an isolated single-family house is the source of urban sprawl and social isolation," says the motivation for the award. Stephan Grabher's "Three-family house" works like a lighthouse, showing how these problems can be escaped with style.

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