Exhibitions come and go. But what if the construction of the exhibition itself was the subject of the exhibition? The “Werkraum Häuschen cottage” was just such a project. The whole concept was designed around the step-by-step building process, conversations with the craftspeople, and the resulting documents. For some visitors at the exhibition’s opening, it was a bit of a surprise to find themselves standing in front of a (still) bare wooden skeleton. During the course of the following weeks, however, construction was completed step by step by apprentices and craftsmen from the Werkraum Bregenzerwald. In keeping with the worldwide trend towards “sustainability,” the walls, ceilings and floor elements were made of materials that had either already been used elsewhere or could easily be dismantled and reused. For instance, 200-year-old roof shingles were used and textile remnants were woven into a new surface. Visitors to the Werkraum Haus were thus treated to an exhibition in constant flux. The exhibition’s final day coincided with the completion of a new building – the Werkraum Häuschen cottage. By the time the building had been finished, the final result had been worked out in practice and discussed from a practical perspective with countless visitors.
The Werkraum Häuschen Cottage
An exhibition? A building? A process!
Gerhard Berchtold Carpentry
Production of the supporting structure and beams for all walls, floors and ceiling frames from regional timber that had been dried, sawed and milled using a joinery machine.
Zimmerei Kaufmann Carpentry
One floor module and two wall modules with diamond-shaped and fish-scale cladding. In addition, expert guidance on the subject of transportable timber construction and modular construction.
An aluminum corrugated metal roof with an appropriate supporting structure, which had already been in use on a barn for more than twenty years. The roof was carefully removed, temporarily stored and repurposed for the project.
One wall and one ceiling module made of silver fir wood. Even after construction was complete, it was possible to easily thread through a power cable, water pipes or internet cables for both elements by opening the panelled wall and adding them. Because the joints are made of wooden nails and burr strips, it is possible to forego (almost) all chemical and metallic aids.
A wall element made of 200-year-old roof shingles. The shingles were discovered during the demolition of a barn. Instead of being incinerated as waste, the shingles were split, cleaned and assembled by hand.
A round cork rug free from coating, paint, or other dyes. While the lower part is made of cork particles and natural rubber, the upper part is made of cork leather. All materials are compostable.
Georg Bechter Lighting
Installation of three recessed spots in the ceiling module from the Geser Joinery. Eighty-five percent of the filigree recessed luminaire was manufactured in the region.
Moor Polster Cushioning
One wall and one ceiling panel with textile covering. One of the wall panels is woven from spare textiles. The buttons of the ceiling element are covered in the same colour shades to match. The knobs can easily be removed to disassemble the element into its component parts.
One wall and one floor element made of native silver fir. The knot-free wood does not require painting or coating. A folding table and two folding benches were integrated into the wall. The fittings of the black steel folding mechanisms were made by Peter Figer.
Siegfried Steurer Installations/Energy Technology
An old enameled sink and a fan heater, which is more than forty years old. The piping was brazed from copper or welded from PE pipes and can be dismantled as well as repurposed. Both objects demonstrate that well-preserved and functioning equipment can remain in constant use.
Floor element made from the remnants of an oak parquet floor. These are of high quality, but were left over from a larger order.
The Werkraum Häuschen Cottage
Design and project management: Wolfgang Schwarzmann
Responsible for conception, implementation and planning: Johannes Kaufmann and Matthias Kaufmann
Content support: Dirk E. Hebel, KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
The Werkraum Häuschen cottage: A resource-saving building
The Werkraum Häuschen cottage is a mobile ambassador of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald. Though not quite 14 square metres in size, it provides an answer to an important question: Is construction that’s in line with the circular economy currently possible in everyday craftsmanship? This question was posed by architect Wolfgang Schwarzmann to the members of Werkraum Bregenzerwald. No restrictions were placed on stakeholders in responding. They were given only one guideline to follow: All fixtures should be as homogeneous as possible in addition to being deconstructable without a loss of material.
As a result, used elements, historical compounds, or leftover materials were used. So too were digital technologies and the latest research findings. There was no need to pay attention to standards, guidelines or regulations. The first step was the wooden construction, which was built on site in the Werkraum Haus with the help of apprentices from the Dr’ Holzbauer carpentry in Andelsbuch and the Zimmerei Kaufmann carpentry in Reuthe. Traditional dovetail joints were used, which were milled by a machine from the Gerhard Berchtold Joinery in Schwarzenberg. For several weeks, the Werkraum Häuschen cottage was built in the midst of the “Constructive Alps” architecture award exhibition. It was an open process visible to the interested general public. Little by little, the walls became solid.
Apprentices from the Rusch company in Alberschwende built the roof out of 50-year-old corrugated sheet metal. The Werkraum Häuschen cottage has now been completed and rests upon large wheels. At home at the Werkraum Haus in Andelsbuch or on the road, it was designed to be a construction kit that could be constantly expanded and further developed. Capable of being converted and modified easily and using just a few screws, it can function as a cashier’s booth, bar, showroom or temporary hotel room. Thus, the little house demonstrates that change can be fun and a source of joy. It also proves that rethinking the current direction of resource-saving buildings is easy if you put your mind to it.
Author: Belinda Rukschcio is managing director of the Werkraum Bregenzerwald craftsmen’s association.