School of Agriculture and Forestry
Reshaping and expansion of an existing school building to passive house standards.
Fink Thurnher Architekten, Bregenz/A, www.fink-thurnher.at
Landes-Immobilien GmbH, Linz/A, www.ligooe.at
merz kley partner zt GmbH, Dormbirn/A, www.mkp-ing.com
The fusion of the former Home Economics School in Weyregg and the School of Agriculture and Forestry in Altmünster to form a vocational education centre for the Salzkammergut region of Austria was the occasion for an architecture competition held in 2007. In the winning design, the existing school building from the 1950s, located to the south of the town centre near the banks of Lake Traun, was maintained in large part. Only the east wing was demolished, as it was not possible to integrate it structurally into the new usage context. The design is oriented on the Vierkanthofstyle of farms typical for this part of Austria, with four buildings surrounding a central quadrangle, and converts the pre-existing structures into a three-storey building with central courtyard. The main entrance forms the prelude to a series of meandering circulation routes. In the roofed forecourt, views are steered towards the lake, but once the visitor enters the building his gaze is directed towards the courtyard, the centrepiece of the ensemble. Attached spaces with open floor plans afford targeted views throughout the building and out onto the landscape. Highly insulated frame construction elements form the non-load-bearing outer walls of the building skeleton, constructed according to the methods of low-energy building. The roof is a simple joist construction while the vertically stacked plank floors are covered in a layer of concrete. The comprehensive deployment of local silver fir enables the building to meet the demands of ecologically sound and low-resource construction. This untreated wood unites all visible surfaces, including floors, ceilings as well as exterior and interior wall cladding, and harmonises perfectly with the building’s use as an agriculture and forestry school. The architects here have taken a school building of modest significance in terms of architecture and have managed to incorporate it as a valuable resource from an ecological standpoint into a spatially impressive overall system.
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