Context and Contrast in the Alps

The 106-square-meter (1141 square-foot) home’s design is based on a flow of rooms that follows the terrain’s slope and an open floor plan organized on three levels. Covered loggias extend the living levels upslope and downslope, creating interfaces with the alpine surrounding. The black wood structure confidently makes its mark in a heterogenous setting.  Photo by Albrecht Imauel Schnabel

The client’s program for this vacation home near Zell am See in the Austrian state of Salzburg was simple: a great room with integrated kitchen and dining, sleeping quarters with an en-suite bathroom for each bedroom, a guest suite, and a covered outdoor space that offers mountain views from morning until evening. A carport and practical storage spaces were to round out the project.

Design trilogy

The design by architect Thomas Lechner, principal and founder of LP Architektur, is organized in three areas: arrival, function and living. Positioning the house in the context of building on a mountainside with majestic views as “counterpart” was of the essence.

Photo by Albrecht Imauel Schnabel

The first area — arrival — is situated directly down by the street, with a carport plus storage room as prelude. Ascending to the vacation domicile, long stairs coil near the top and reorient the visitor toward the valley and the surrounding mountains.

Photo by Albrecht Imauel Schnabel

The entrance to the house creates the interface to the second area — function — with functional spaces on one level. One has arrived, may want to hang up his or her coat and perhaps use the powder room.

Passing through the space dedicated to the arrival, the interior opens to the third area, the great room, which is arranged and organized in three levels that follow the slope of the mountainside. Single flights of stairs connect the living levels. Kitchen and dining are in the center, a fireplace area below and a space to read above. The grading creates each area’s back, providing a sense of security. Despite the spaces’ connectedness, each level is differentiated by its distinct formulation. The center area is dominated by the view out the window dominates, with the mountains as theme, like in a painting on the wall. The levels above and below, however, can be interpreted as interfaces to the outside, with covered loggias extended each respective room to the outside and opening it up into nature. The open-sided rooms offer a protected space for being outdoors during its assigned time of day. The level with the fireplace thematizes the relationship to the surrounding mountains and the panoramic views, while the reading level signifies retreating to a confined space in reference to the immediate surroundings.

The main living area leads to the north-east-facing bedrooms, each with its en-suite bathroom, which then also belongs to the house’s function part.

Photo by Albrecht Imauel Schnabel

Compress and release

The house’s overall concept comprises a variety of spaces and rooms, each offering distinct individual qualities. Depending on needs and mood, one can retreat, disappear, feel snug. Yet the home also offers opportunity to experience the expanse and freedom of the alpine landscape unfolding outside.

This contrast, the polarity, is also reflected in the choice of materials. Painted black on the exterior, the timber structure confidently claims its space within its surroundings. By contrast, the light, warm interior affords a comfortable environment where one can relax and recharge. △

Photo by Albrecht Imauel Schnabel