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In the Footsteps of the Fox

In the Footsteps of the Fox

In the Footsteps of the Fox

Childhood memories, often as fleeting as a fox, led Carmen Can and her family to build a lodge at the Schetteregg mid-elevation pasture, the architecture of which was inspired by the temporary summer settlements once actively used here but which now invite people to stay at this special place.

Schetteregg is a mid-elevation pasture and temporary summer settlement area in Bregenzerwald. As a district of Egg, it is just ten minutes from the village and yet it’s a world entirely of its own. To go any further from here, you must travel on foot, which is one of the reason’s that the area is so serene. It’s like a resting place for the soul. Against this spectacular backdrop, the Can family built the Fuchsegg Eco Lodge,

the style of which is in keeping with the area’s pastoral charms.

Approaching the lodge, the landscape suddenly changes and yet it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this transition takes place: Is it maybe the right turn after a longer straightaway? Or is it perhaps where the forest begins? Although the meadows near the road from Grossdorf to Schetteregg were just barely still green, here there are metres of snow in the forest. If after travelling for a while you emerge from the forest, suddenly you will see people skiing on the slopes and the world is entirely white. At the beginning of this serene area is the Fuchsegg lodge.

Blending seamlessly into the landscape, the area is home to several wooden-clad house facades that have been built into the gently sloping terrain. Though of different sizes and styles, they form a cohesive mix. This lodge houses guests under several different roofs. A Mid-Elevation-Pasture Lodge “Our family has always known this place; I spent the summers and winters of my childhood here,” says Carmen Can, a systemic consultant from Hard. “Our family has been deeply rooted in Schetteregg for four generations.It was important to us that the Fuchsegg lodge be designed in a sustainable manner and carefully integrated into the environment. The inn itself serves as a sociable meeting place for locals and house guests alike,” says Carmen. “The potential of the Schetteregg area to offer a variety of nature experiences convinced us to build an inn here. After all, the Schetteregg area is special. It’s like an end point, a natural rest stop.”

Another way to imagine the area is as a clearing set amidst a unique landscape. Using the region’s traditional building methods as a model, architects Elmar Ludescher and Philipp Lutz created six simple structures with both care and understanding. According to the architects, the buildings were designed to blend seamlessly with the surroundings to create “a serene natural flair.” The wooden facades allow the individual buildings to “age” along with the setting. The window bands, which feature rotating wooden slats, extend over all the buildings and allow the environment to “grow” into the building’s interiors. “From every room, from every window in every single building, you have a different view of the outdoors,” says Carmen Can. From the Tenn (a covered open area), guests can enjoy views of the vast hills of the Bregenzerwald while from the Schopf (the typical Bregenzerwald porch) in front of the sauna house, spectacular views of the Winterstaude mountain can be enjoyed.”

Speaking of saunas: Fuchsegg is not a chalet village. Here, each building has its own function, its own spatial concept, which is why the individual buildings can only be reached above ground, on gravel footpaths that lead through the meadows or snow cover. “This allows guests to to experience the seasons and the elements. In addition, no seminar guest will be embarrassed to encounter a sauna visitor in a bathrobe in the hotel lobby and vice versa.” The outdoors plays a leading role in the coherent staging of the buildings, as does the huge open-air pool.

Childhood memory: blueberry coloured islands

The journey to Schetteregg is as magical as the entrance to the Fuchsegg lodge itself. The heavy wooden sliding doors of the building closest to the street open silently, allowing guests to glide into a darkened room. Blueberry coloured walls made of felt have a soft, pleasant muting effect. When guests hang up their coats, they also casts aside the cares of everyday life before stepping through a sliding door into a wider space. Inside, various lighting and furnishing elements create structured islands of space. In the centre of the space is a long table at standing height. Here, guests can arrive or keep an eye on the goings on.

Doors open into the restaurant areas on the two lower sides of the entrance. The reception and a spacious bar are on the sides, and opposite is a lounge. In the extension to the entrance, there is a sofa area in front of the fireplace, which is integrated into a floor-to-ceiling wall of tiles. Without exception, everything in the Fuchsegg lodge was made by craftsmen and women from the region. The colour of the tiles, which were designed and fired by Karak, a manufacturer in Vorarlberg, are reminiscent of Carmen Can’s childhood memories of blueberries. “We used to collect whole baskets full of berries back then. Blueberry picking is to autumn here as snow is to winter. The colour of the berry contains a high degree of black, which takes the coolness out of the blue. Combined with the dark deep reddish-purple of the pulp, a spectrum of colours is created that fills out the entire fireplace wall.

Guests are probably unaware that the tiles were created using an ancient Japanese firing method based on the principle of random chance, but they nevertheless intuitively sense their quality. Those that run their hands over the fireplace wall unconsciously grasp at the material and the colour.” The spacious seminar rooms, a lounge, a library with gallery and several reading tables, as well as a room for yoga or simply relaxing, with a wide, covered balcony in front, are located above the restaurant. In the basement, there are playrooms for children and the wine cellar. “In the spirit of spending quality time together, couples, groups of friends, families with grandparents and seminar guests are all equally welcome.Thanks to the individual buildings, we can cater to a variety of needs. Children and adults can spread out, there is ample space for retreat, for example in the Tenn, which is a kind of covered free space.”

The Neighbourhood Fox

The residential buildings also boast plenty of space and versatility. The various rooms, not unlike the buildings themselves, are very different: the double rooms, for instance, can be combined into a larger apartment, and there are suites, fireplace lofts and chalets with their own entrances. The guest rooms all have several things in common: first, the furniture was made by Bregenzerwald craftsmen, nearly all of whom are members of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald. The second factor is the use of sustainable materials. “The walls are all made of roughly hewn and brushed silver fir, a wood type that represents the Bregenzerwald region and was also predominantly cut here on site.

The furniture in the rooms is made of elm, ash and maple, and has an airy and light effect as well as being practical for use alongside the elegant fireplaces. The furnishings were also inspired by the concept of the temporary summer settlement. These ‘outposts’ were and to some extent still are an essential part of Alpine transhumance, providing a middle and intermediate stage before the cows move from their home farms to the Alpine pasture for the summer. The huts were built from whatever was available; they have to function as a dwelling, providing warmth and shelter from a world outside that is also a livelihood.”

The Fuchsegg is an homage to the anonymous architecture of the region, a nod to the landscape and its inhabitants, which, incidentally, also includes the fox. Known to be independent and adaptable, foxes have been a symbol of the secluded nature of the Schetteregg area ever since Carmen Can’s childhood. Small wonder that it is also her favourite animal. A fox even left his mark on the undried screed of one of the buildings. Welcome to the neighbourhood.

Author: Carina Jielg
Issue: Winter 2021-22 Travel Magazine