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Living with Trees, Klosterneuburg, Austria

Thursday 03 Jan 2013

A home with a history

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Three loggias connect the inside to the outside in woodland house 

In the village of Weidling, Austria, building activity has been taking place on this site since the sixteenth century. Originally the site of a wine cellar and winery, this was converted into a manor house in 1850, and then continually adapted and changed until finally transformed into a 1960s house – the base of Living with Trees house.

Following on from this tradition of changing, adapting and expanding, this house has now been remodelled to meet the current ways of living and sustainable standards. To reduce the environmental impact as well as construction costs, most of the existing structure was kept. Historic building elements which were found on site, like stone floor tiles and terracotta elements, were re-used in a different context and refer to the history of the location.

The new part of the house is facing the garden to the south, embracing and connecting the inside with the outside in the form of three loggias: one loggia frames the views from the master bedroom; the middle loggia defines the unit of the children’s rooms; and the third, and biggest, with a transparent fireplace in the middle, extends the living room to the wooded garden. This emphasises the triptych-like appearance of the loggias as steel beams draw sharp lines forming continuous frames. These frames hide the construction of the roof and the walls, and elevate the floor slightly from the garden level. The timber linings of the loggias transform them into abstract elements. The simple materiality of the zinc-coated steel frames and the untreated timber allows an ageing process so the appearance will change with time. References to these materials are found in other parts of the building, such as the staircase and the stack of logs tucked away in the recess of the entrance façade.

The environmental awareness of the client has been addressed by solar heating, a domestic ventilation system with heat recovery together with an improved thermal insulation and a green roof.

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