27 Aug Snøhetta wraps timber office in plant-covered suspended metal frame
A “green curtain” and charred-wood cladding wrap around the timber-framed ASI Reisen Headquarters that Snøhetta has completed in Natters, Austria.
Intended to reflect the ethos of ASI Reisen, a sustainably-minded travel company, Snøhetta’s design for the bright open-plan office was developed to minimise its environmental footprint.
It incorporates renewable energy technologies and a structure made almost entirely from timber, enclosed by a green facade that the architecture studio hopes will contribute to local biodiversity.
“For humans to continue to live and thrive on this planet, the buildings we inhabit and spend most of our lives in need to be built with as much consideration for natural preservation and energy efficiency as for comfort,” said Snøhetta.
“This new timber building with an open office concept offers several solutions that will enable the long-term low environmental footprint of the office space.”
ASI Reisen Headquarters is positioned adjacent to the company’s existing two-storey office block, which it has been connected to via a bridge.
Timber was used to build the new office in recognition of the material’s eco-credentials but also for the positive impact it can have on people’s health and wellbeing.
The timber frame has been engineered to create an open-plan layout on each floor of the office, ensuring flexibility and a light, open environment.
The only elements of the structure that aren’t made of timber are its core and basement, which have been built with reinforced concrete.
Other eco-friendly considerations of the building include the inclusion of a reversible air-water heat pump system that heats and cools the building, alongside rooftop photovoltaic panels contribute to the office’s electricity supply.
Inside, smart sensors automatically monitor and regulate the building’s internal environment by controlling ventilation.
“With its resource-saving timber construction and sophisticated sustainable energy concept, the new ASI headquarters marks an inspiration for responsibly constructing our homes and office spaces for the future,” explained Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s Innsbruck office.
“At the same time, the new office space offers a pleasant and modern working atmosphere for its employees.”
Externally, the focal point of the building is a suspended metal frame through which a mix of warm weather and evergreen plant species have been woven.
Described as a green curtain, this is designed to help disguise the building within its surroundings throughout the year. It will be maintained using an automatic irrigation system that relies on rainwater stored in an underground cistern.
According to Snøhetta, this green curtain will provide shade, reduce the building’s energy demands and contribute to local biodiversity in tandem with the office garden.
“Together with the 1,215 new plants in the open space consisting of 73 local species, the green facade also contributes to local biodiversity, ensuring that the building is a good neighbour to its human and other-than-human communities,” explained the studio.
Forming a backdrop to the green curtain is the building’s charred-wood facade, which was created using the traditional Japanese method of wood preservation called yakisugi.
Yakisugi was chosen as it makes wood durable and waterproof, negating the need for paint, and also helps to protect it against insects.
Inside there is a mix of shared and private office spaces, alongside a relaxation room, cafeteria, showers and changing rooms. There are also meeting and breakout spaces in the existing office next door.
At the heart of the building, a large staircase and double-height foyer, nicknamed the Base Camp, has been incorporated. This is a space to welcome visitors and is lined with panels that shed light on the history of the company.
The office’s material palette is dominated by wood, achieved with the exposed timber frame and a selection of light timber finishes.
Wireframe shelves are positioned throughout for use as storage and space dividers, while large areas of glazing frame the surrounding mountains and forests.
Snøhetta is an international architecture and design studio founded in 1989 by Kjetil Trædal Thorsen and Craig Dykers.
Other offices designed by the studio include Powerhouse Brattørkai in Norway, which produces twice the amount of energy it uses and has been longlisted in the Business building category for the 2020 ArchitectureAwards.
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