Snøhetta finish building the headquarters of the international trekking and adventure travel company, ASI Reisen, in Natters, Austria.
Expressive, evergreen façade
ASI Reisen is a sustainability-oriented travel company, so it was no wonder that their headquarters would be the embodiment of their beliefs and working culture. The headquarters is designed in the form of open office spaces that make use of natural lighting and promotes a healthy working atmosphere for its employees. The headquarters is blanketed with a rich evergreen “curtain” and charred-wood, a combination of building materials that are heavily inspired by the surrounding scenery. The mainframe of the offices is made of timber and steel in order to optimize material use and energy consumption. The richness of the exterior comes from the use of evergreen combined with timber and steel; a combination that brings the structure warmth while maintaining its practicality. Snøhetta used high-tech and low-tech solutions to optimize energy consumption, while also minimalizing waste and the environmental footprint of the building.
Modern architecture is all about nature
The building reflects the new wave of sustainable, eco-friendly architecture that’s sweeping the scene. Ever since humanity realized that in order to survive, we need to pay our respects to the environment and be as considerate of our impact on it as much as we can, this approach has been reflected in recent architectural projects. Snøhetta embraced this approach wholly with its energy-efficient, resource-saving design. Snøhetta delivered this project that celebrates sustainability even in the very structure of the offices since the headquarters is built with the intent of leaving a minimal environmental footprint. Snøhetta embraced an environmentally-aware design strategy, and that’s why this structure displays the harmony between man and nature. The design wasn’t envisioned solely by Snøhetta, but also by the employees of ASI Reisen. This collaboration between the ASI Reisen team and the design team reflects the spirit of the headquarters that’s built on unity and reciprocity.
An environmentally-aware design
The headquarters consists of a four-story timber structure clad with a wall of evergreen. This wall hosts 17 different warm weather and evergreen species sprouting from big planters. Snøhetta didn’t choose this wall only for aesthetic purposes, as it serves as a very effective glare shield for the abundant glass surfaces of the offices. Timber frame construction combined with solid wooden elements are also used in order to reserve more resources, since the charred, carbonized timber is durable, waterproof, and doesn’t require extra painting in the future. Snøhetta didn’t choose the charred painting haphazardly, because it is actually a traditional Japanese wood preservation technique known as yakisugi. With the combination of charred wood and evergreen cladding, the headquarters are enveloped within a protective layer against the elements. Snøhetta also integrated a rainwater-recycling system that feeds the irrigation system of the plants. The ASI Reisen Headquarters doesn’t only represent a home for its employees, but it’s also a home for a miniature ecosystem that, with the surrounding greenery, contributes to the local biodiversity.
The future is long-term and low-maintenance
The design is solid and practical in order to reserve building materials and resources, and that’s why Snøhetta focused on finding a long-term low environmental footprint of this office space. Added to the flexibility and openness of the design, there are high-tech measures taken in order to optimize energy consumption. Snøhetta implemented temperature sensors that regulate the building’s cooling system. This energy concept was tested using thermal-dynamic building stimulation. Now, the natural ventilation system circulates air through the building providing its users with fresh air and a pleasant temperature all day round. The greenery surrounding the building also contributes to regulating the building’s temperature. The energy preservation measures that were taken don’t stop at that, since the roof is covered with solar panels and the electricity generated from them covers some of the power consumption of the headquarters. Snøhetta is inspiring in designers and architects the versatility of the sustainable architecture scene. The architectural firm exhibited what can be done with little material and resources. Instead of working on cladding buildings against the elements of nature, they have embraced nature instead and found that the best way of defying these natural forces is actually succumbing to them. Through integrating the building with its surroundings, it has achieved at-oneness with nature and made the best out of its resources. The future of architecture is not in defiance, but rather being peacefully carried by the current toward the tomorrows that we are constructing for posterity.
Location: Natters, Austria
Area: 1548 m²
Clients: ASI Reisen
Structural Engineer: Tragwerkspartner, Innsbruck Hvac
Building Simulation: Alpsolar Klimadesign; Innsbruck