In the Silence: Office Building for ASI Reisen near Innsbruck
client: ASI Reisen
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape architecture: Snøhetta
Structural Framework: Tragwerkspartner
Location: In der Stille 1, 6161 Natters (AT)
What an address for an office building, and one like this to boot: In der Stille 1 [Eng.: In the Silence 1] are the street name and house number of the new headquarters for ASI Reisen in Natters, a town south of Innsbruck. The parcel lies outside the centre of town, on the edge of a forest, but only 5 km from the heart of Innsbruck. However, it feels far, far away from any urban area. The wooden structure erected here by Snøhetta, which features 65 work spaces, reflects its natural situation as well as the client’s own “inborn” proximity to nature: established as the Alpinschule Innsbruck in 1963, ASI Reisen specializes in hiking, cycling and adventure tours on all continents.
Only the cellar and the stiffening core of the building consist of reinforced concrete. The rest is a wood skeleton structure whose massive wood elements provide stiffening. These elements are found above all in the western part of the building, where the ancillary spaces, main entrance and stairwell are located. For the wooden façade, Snøhetta employed yakisugi, an old method for preserving wood whereby the surface of the material is lightly charred and thus carbonated. Even with no coating, the charring protects the wood from weathering and insects. A metal trellis has been mounted in front of the façade. On the west side, where the building opens onto a park-like lot, this area also serves as a balcony. Seventeen different plant species climb the trellis: they convey a sense of proximity to nature and offer protection from both glare and solar heat. Inside as well, “plant shelving” of black metal delimits the office zones, offers storage space and provides a place to set things down.
The energy concept behind the new building combines low-tech with efficiency. A reversible air-water-heat pump system (40 kW) heats and cools the structure via heating and cooling installations under the floor. Sensors measure room temperature, humidity, CO2 and wind in order to provide fully automatic control of natural ventilation with mechanically driven ventilation flaps. The natural ventilation uses the thermal lift in the two-storey foyer as well as the wind-pressure conditions to allow fresh air to stream through the building. The roof is home to a photovoltaic system that operates as an overflow installation. The power generated there covers part of the building’s own electricity requirements.