Designed by Lang+Schwaerzler, The “Am Kaiserstrand” bathhouse in western Austria offers spectacular views of the Bay of Bregenz, Pfaender Mountain and the foothills of the Swiss Alps. A 42-meter long pier connects the pile structure situated on the eastern coast of Lake Constance to the recreational zone of the same name on shore. The revitalization of the entire complex has also just been completed: the coastal promenade was extended, new pedestrian and bike paths were laid out, and a historic hotel complex was refurbished.
The bathhouse is, however, without a doubt, the highlight. Translated into the contemporary formal vocabulary of Vorarlberg’s architecture, it convincingly continues the typology referred to as the Swabian Sea tradition. Resting atop the platform – which is supported by 30 reinforced concrete columns – is a simple, single-story structure. It houses a glazed restaurant (whose terrace provides access to the sundeck), as well as changing rooms, showers, and WCs.
The numerous story-high folding shutters, which constitute the facade’s outermost layer, and the sliding glass doors behind them allow the building to be used flexibly; because the bathhouse can be opened up completely, or, on the other hand, closed and protected, for example, from inclement weather, a variety of spatial combinations are possible.
The use of wood, however, is a constant: the columns and the beams. as well as the horizontal cladding of the facade, and all floors – inside and out – are all of the renewable resources. In a nod to sustainability, the architects worked with untreated silver fir from nearby forests. The silver fir, which is exposed to the elements, will weather naturally with the passage of time.
The energy concept is also environmentally sound. The bathhouse is equipped with controlled ventilation and heat-recovery. During the heating season, an air-to-air heat pump pre-warms the incoming air to ensure that the restaurant space can be quickly brought up to a comfortable temperature.
Location: Lochau, Austria
Architect in Charge: Karl Schwaerzler, Theo Lang
Area: 936.0 m2
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Bruno Klomfar – Tom Maldener
Manufacturers: Fa Walter Cernenschek GmbH, I+R Schertler-Alge, Ender Klimatechnik GmbH, Maler Hörburger, FHE Franke Vertrieb von Gastroeinrichtung GmbH
Project Name: Am Kaiserstrand Bathhouse