Back to our roots: In the Black Forest National Park, which was founded in 2014, there are plans to allow a virgin forest to grow again. Nature is to be allowed to develop freely, if at all possible without any human intervention. Undisturbed and untamed. There is even space for trees that have fallen down. On the forest floor, moss and fungi grow over the branches and bark – the dead wood creates a habitat! This central idea also gave rise to the design for the new Visitor Centre created by Sturm und Wartzeck Architekten: the various sections of the building appear to lie criss-crossed over one another like tree trunks in the forest.
Although the design may look simple or even accidental, it was in fact rigorously planned: after all, it was important – of course – to protect the surrounding forest of the National Park as much as possible. Old existing trees remained in place, and the sections of the building were carefully positioned between them and adjusted to fit around them. The construction project was executed taking the greatest possible care to protect nature. And when it came to the materials used, the focus was also on eco-friendliness and sustainability: wood from native trees was used wherever possible – strong beech for construction, silver fir for the structural components and interior fittings, and Black Forest spruce for the shingle facade. That brings us to the most impressive element of the design: all the buildings are finished off with a silvery skin of wooden shingles. "The silver-grey shingles emulate the colour and texture of the bark-covered tree trunks," explain Jörg Sturm and Susanne Wartzeck from Sturm & Wartzeck Architekten, who won the competition with their natural-looking design.
Skin of shingles
In order to achieve this organic surface, which makes the building blend in perfectly with the surrounding forest, the team from the Schindelzentrum Allgäu deployed a "secret weapon" – Pullex Silverwood by ADLER. "The shingles were dipped into a 50:50 mix of Silber and Colourless – this created a unique, deliberately irregular look," explains Simon Hummel from the Schindelzentrum. Although they spent a lot of time discussing the options, the planning team ultimately also decided to treat the wood with a wood protection glaze by ADLER to ensure that it stays in good condition. And they proved that pre-greying can also look as if there are variations in the extent of weathering rather than just being uniform. So the wood looks as if it is alive!
A walk in the forest
And talking of being alive: the Visitor Centre gives visitors the opportunity not just to see but to really experience the various "levels" of the animal and plant kingdom in the forest, close-up and from lots of different perspectives: viewing hatches and panorama windows offer exciting views and insights, and an open-air skywalk leads you through the forest, whatever the weather, to a gently inclined viewing tower with a platform that sits high up in the treetops like a throne, giving you a marvellous 360 degree view. Incidentally, the "last tree standing" was wrapped in Alaska cedar shingles, likewise finished with Pullex Silverwood, in order to achieve a consistent look, despite the pattern of the shingles, which are laid vertically instead of horizontally in this case. The challenging construction work with wood and wood/steel, following the plans of structural engineers schlaich bergermann partner sbp gmbh, was executed by ZÜBLIN Timber as the main contractor, supported by ADLER customers Holzbau Schaible and Zimmerei Hansmann: they used cross-laminated timber elements made from silver fir, which were protected by ADLER Lignovit Primo and ADLER Lignovit Lasur in colour Weide.
Searching for clues
One material also dominates the design of the interior spaces, where visitors stroll around, admire the exhibits, perhaps have something to eat, shop or go to a permanent exhibition to find out more about the forest and its inhabitants: wood in all its most beautiful shades – finished off with products by ADLER! To preserve and underline the character of the native silver fir tongue and groove boards that were used for the interior panelling, Firma Häussermann finished them with a very special coating: ADLER's water-based varnish Bluefin Multilux Softmatt was tinted for this purpose with a touch of ADLER Aqua-Tint in a light shade of Tabak-Grau. For the fitted furniture, Tischlerei Kalmbach used ADLER Aqua-Soft CFB tinted with ADLER Aqua-Tint to give a gentle hint of white. And the wood and aluminium windows, made by Kehrel, look natural but nevertheless unusual, thanks to ADLER Aquawood Natureffekt in colour Paris. In keeping with the slogan for the first and to date the only National Park in Baden-Württemberg: "A touch wilder!"
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