Our second day of excursions in Austria started with an amazing breakfast at the Schwanen Bio-Hotel in Bizau. Right after, we jumped on the bus and drove to the nearby town of Bezau to see the Sicherheitszentrum Bezau (or Bezau Security Center), which is home to the local police department as well as the local fire station. The building, completed in 2014, was designed by architect Hermann Kaufmann in cooperation with DI Ralph Broger GmbH and QUERFORMAT ZT GmbH.
The goal of reaching the highest sustainability standards is achieved by using untreated laminated timber throughout the entire project. Timber frame is used for the load bearing walls, while spruce cladding covers the exterior timber walls. A wood and concrete composite system is adopted for the floors. All the wood is locally harvested in the Voralberg region.
The lower floor has a 7 meter high ceiling and it hosts the fire trucks and the police vehicles. On the upper level a series of offices and utility rooms are lined up to face a wide glazing that opens up to a beautiful valley. Despite the extremely practical use of the building (populated with tools, machinery and training rooms), the interiors felt warm, calm and somehow intimate.
Right after this first visit we stopped by the Michael Kaufmann Zimmerei und Tischlerei (Carpentry and Joinery). As we stepped inside the rectangular workshop we faced a long assembly line occupied with timber modules at different stages of completion.
Michael Kaufmann gave us a personal tour through the factory and explained how his company specializes in 2D and 3D prefabricated construction. Rather than having the carpentry work done on a construction site, the modules are built and assembled as much as possible inside the workshop. This system allows for great rapidity and precision, allowing the carpenters to work in a more comfortable and safe environment than the construction site.
During our visit to the Zimmerei, workers were busy assembling and refining rooms for a hotel project in Austria (for a top secret client). With their prefabricated system the Zimmerei carpenters can finish three rooms in about five days (with finished interiors including the wet walls)! Then all they have to do is lift the modules, drive them to the construction site, and in a very short period, assemble the final product.
What is noticeable in these buildings is the use of untreated wood, both for the structure and for the interior details, that produces clean and healthy interior spaces. In addition the high quality of the details generates simple but extremely enjoyable spaces.
Written by Chiara Bonsignori, Photos by Michael Rahmatoulin