An ecological architecture that does not fall into sterility and artificiality

This semi-detached house in Hohenems, Austria is an example of a young couple taking a risk to contribute to sustainable development and attractive spatial planning on the highest ecological standards.

The young architects of MWArchitekten are both builders of the entire house and sellers of one half. Based on the budget and the desire to create sustainable housing, the decision was made to build a semi-detached house of two entities of 125 square meters and two carports, on an area of around 600 square meters.

The challenge to create something beautiful with little resources and with the restriction of the construction site required a carefully planned house up to the furnishings. The aim of the architects couple was to create an ecological architecture that does not fall into sterility and artificiality. As a model for this purpose the architects studied housing typologies that have been developed over generations. The facade design is based on the atmospheric qualities of these traditional structures. Each half of the semi-detached house receives its individual fingerprint.

The semi-detached house has been carefully adapted to the natural terrain, fitting both respectfully and confidently into the surroundings. The volume and the roof shape blend in between the heterogeneous buildings and roof landscape in the area. The architects made skillfull use of the hillside without great earth movement. In the interior space, the hillside becomes noticeable in the steps towards the living room and the terrace.

The sensitivity of the house can be experienced both in the centimeter-accurate utilization of the floor area as well as in the execution of the materials and the details.

This very well thought trough planning saved on the essential costs, the property, the floor space and the volume. The compact building creates intimacy. At the same time the rooms appear generous. This is achieved by skilfully incorporating the topography into the building and spatial sequences designed down to the last detail, such as visual axes.

Despite its simple timber frame structure insulated with cellulose, the compact volume of the semi-detached house typology, as well as the three floors at minimum room height, give the house an excellent energy balance. The low-energy house is heated by a geothermal heat pump. An artificial ventilation was omitted for cost reasons. Instead, there is a fully programmable skylight at the highest point of the staircase providing fresh air and night cooling.

Design and info © MWArchitekten

Images © Adolf Bereuter

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