The mighty mountain is the home of myths such as the story of the Swedish soldier who got lost and wound up here during the Thirty Years’ War. In the part of the village called Übermellen, typical, old Bregenzerwald houses dominate, whereas Oberfeld’s villagescape is determined by contemporary residential buildings. Mellau is the only village in the region not to have its cemetery next to the church.
A public house in the form of an exquisite wooden box stands above the high-tide structure made from large blocks. The previous building fell victim to a flood. The new building also houses a distribution substation. An elongated room with two panorama windows is located beneath a flat roof: one window faces the stream and the village, and the other window lights up the bar’s assorted bottles. The shell is made of silver fir wood. The clever interplay between the smooth cladding on the outside and the somewhat rougher panelling on the inside as well as the few openings are typical of the architect’s style. A protected entrance is recessed in the clear, simple box-like structure.
Architect: Bernardo Bader
2. Hotel Sonne
The tourist industry is a major employer in Mellau. That is why several large hotel complexes have grown up here in the course of a few decades, comprising room after room, balconies and a large roof. This also rings true at the “Sonne”. It has a modern appearance: straight, flat roof, textile-covered balustrades, light sunshades. With its position in the village, it is creating a new centre. The renovated Bregenzerwald house in front of it contrasts with the perfection of its modern design. The new style of the “Sonne” comprises an entirety of things and soul. Pay it a visit for it to reveal itself in its full glory.
Architects: Bernd Frick & Richard Winkel
3. Haus M.
The utility space is a very special feature of the Bregenzerwald house. The area in front of the actual house served the purposes of accommodating the farmers on hot days and of farming work. The conversion for today’s purposes provides the chance to carry out artistic experiments. In this case, the objective is for the former utility space to be used as living quarters. And that is why the architect equipped it with thermopane glazing. In the traditional utility space, the shutters were folded upwards. To enable the glazed room to get some fresh air in the summer, a special lifting device for the heavy windows has been developed.
Architect: Helmut Dietrich, 1997
4. Haus H.
The timber structures of the old Bregenzerwald houses make it easier to adapt them to today’s requirements. As part of the renovation of this farmhouse, the cellar was completely renewed. This was made possible since the log-built structure was, literally, lifted in the air. The cogged corners of the beams lying one on top of another provide the structure with the required stability. This method also makes it easy to replace any missing parts. In earlier times, the cogging of the wood worked as a substitute for screws and nails. The beams and boards are held together by dovetails, tenons and halved joints. Wooden nails made from hardwood were also used, but rarely.
Architects: Helmut Dietrich & Helmut Höscheler, 1998
5. Haus H.
The oldest parts of such farmhouses originate from the 16th century. At this time, the house had a room with an open fireplace. This was eventually turned into a kitchen with a fireplace which became the most important room in the living area – the smokefree, warm parlour with tiled stove or, as in this case, with a masonry heater. It was fed with wood from the kitchen, thereby generating up to 70 % of the heat in the house. It still works in this way today.
Architect: Hermann Kaufmann, 2002
6. Fire station
The architects took advantage of a terrace to distribute the various tasks: from the upper street, you can take the bridge to the recreation rooms, the hall and the command centre. The street at the bottom widens into the forecourt in front of the vehicle depot. In this way, there is nothing stoppingthe fire fighters getting to an emergency on time. The hall with the workshops is made from concrete, with the top floor made from wood. The station and the tower for drying the hoses have balanced proportions, and there is an interplay between open and closed parts of the structure: open long sides, closed narrow sides, making it attractive to the eye. It was modelled on barns typical of the village.
Architects: Dietrich | Untertrifaller
Mellau separated from Schwarzenberg in 1464, and has been its own parish since then. Its cemetery is the only one in the whole of the Bregenzerwald not to be located in the middle of the village. The reason: the church became too small in the early 1970s. In order to enlarge it, the church graveyard had to be moved. Work on the new cemetery commenced on the Eggbühel in 1974. Within two years, 198 graves for burials, 24 urn graves and 18 urn wall graves had been made. The chapel is made from exposed concrete in “brutalism” style – from the French word for exposed concrete, “béton brut”. The glass windows were made by Albert Wieder, from Switzerland.
8. Haus Ü.
Farmers don’t usually have an affinity with the countryside over and above purely practical purposes. That is precisely why new houses such as this one, which carry on the rural building tradition, stand in the countryside in a typical way. In order to avoid expensive earth moving, they used to use the existing ground and placed the house on the field, without a great deal of excavation work being carried out. They enjoyed an unobstructed view and lots of open space around them. The modern house alludes to this building tradition without taking it literally. The low-sloped roof, the simple form, the compact structure and the shingles are all traditional.
Architect: Jürgen Haller
9. Naze’s Hus public house
This building is several centuries old. Nobody knows exactly how many. It was renovated in 2004–2005 under the supervision of the Austrian Federal Monuments Office. It is now the only listed building in Mellau. It serves as a public house. Earlier, one of its owners used to run a cooperage, i.e. he produced wooden barrels, washtubs and suchlike. His name was Ignaz. Since this name was too long for taciturn farmers, they contented themselves with “Naze”. This name was gradually adopted by the house, and it became known as “Naze’s Hus”. And still goes by this name today!
10. Haus H.
Haus H. is square, traditional and modern at the same time. You can just imagine how the original shape of a house could have looked: a gable roof, and then let your imagination run wild. It is a simple cube with a turned gable, with cut-out patios and breath-taking views of the impressive natural backdrop. The traditional Bregenzerwald shingle façade wasn’t just applied to the façade, but also to the roof. Embedded in nature – a material, and a shape.
Architects: Jürgen Haller & Peter Plattner, 2008
Book & Folder
Details of the objects are described in an accompanying folder. Furthermore, a book on the subject containing the background histories to the way of life in the Bregenzerwald is available. The information media are available from any one of the tourist information offices and from Bregenzerwald Tourismus.