House A, Dornbirn (AT)

On a mountain meadow above Dornbirn, we built a timelessly beautiful house in wood and glass: it is both traditional and modern without frills, it shows respect for the landscape, but without a false rustic flair.


Urban Context

The house is situated on the outskirts of Kehlegg, a hamlet above Dornbirn, on the edge of a steep south-western meadow. This hillside location results in the polarity between the one-story street façade and the two-story valley façade. It also triggered the functional division into an upper living area and the sleeping rooms below, which open to the garden on ground level. With its clear cubature, the flat pitched saddle roof and its wooden outer skin, the building blends into the surrounding landscape just as respectfully and unobtrusively as the traditional farmhouses in the region. As soon as the wooden boards gradually rot, the house blends in even more easily.

Client: Private
Location: A-6850 Dornbirn
Architecture: Dietrich | Untertrifaller
Project management: Peter Nussbaumer, Felix Kruck
Construction: 2008-2009
Area: 252 m²

Awards: 2011 Houses Award, 2011 Prize for Wooden Constructions Vorarlberg

statics: Mader & Flatz, Bregenz / HAVCR: Team GMI, Dornbirn / electronics: Hecht, Rankweil

general contractor: i+R Schertler-Alge, Lauterach

Photos: © Bruno Klomfar

Unlimited Living Space


On its road side the building frames a triangular main courtyard. In a right angle to the ridge of the building, the flat annex of the garage – built in exposed concrete – flanks the courtyard.

The floor plan of the elongated house opens up as soon as you enter it: The living floor is designed as a continuous, all-round glazed living/dining area without partitions, visually zoned only by the fireplace. At the western end of the building, the architects planned a compact, barrier-free granny flat at the request of the owner, which can be accessed directly from the entrance area.

A single flight of stairs leads from the entrance to the lower floor with the private retreat rooms. The rooms of the parents and children are lined up along a straight corridor. All rooms are room-high glazed and oriented southwest to the beautiful view of the landscape and the valley. Exits at ground level lead to the loggia in front, which is connected to the garden downhill.


Hybrid Construction

The house is built in hybrid construction: The basement and the false ceilings form a massive plinth on which the living level sits as a wooden construction. Full-walled triangular trusses in the attic made it possible to span the entire width of the building – apart from a series of slender steel round columns along the surrounding glass façade, there are no visible supporting elements in the living space.

Design with precise Craftsmanship

Wood is the determining material, inside as well as outside. The great value that we placed on precision craftsmanship can already be seen from the façade: A shade of horizontal white fir strips surrounds the structure as the outermost layer. This encloses loggias and external stairs and overlaps with the ceiling-high glass or wooden walls on the inside. The result is a fascinating interplay of light and shadow, an exciting alternation between open and closed surfaces, free views of the landscape panorama as well as protected room zones.

In the living area, dark oak floorboards and light ceiling panels of silver fir create a pleasantly cosy atmosphere without any false rustic flair. In contrast, the ceilings and walls of the private rooms are white. The warm-toned oak repeats itself in the floor, while in the bathrooms anthracite-colored terrazzo sets strong accents.