Office OFF! in Austria

The architect’s office heri&salli from Vienna designed on behalf of the façade design company “FOBface of buildings” a new office building made of wood in Burgenland/Austria. 

Though normally a place dedicated to “work”, the concept of quality of life and leisure culture took an integral part in the planning process. The traditional aspect of “going to work” therefore has received minor consideration. Integrated meeting points, attached living and relaxation areas, as well as a gym, a fire pond converted into a swimming pool, common outdoor areas and a climbing wall in the three storey high entrance hall strive to represent the task “work” in a living environment -OFFICE OFF!

By considering modern energetic and technical solutions, which aim to reach energetic independence the building achieves a sustainable and economic reference to its environment. It was very important to embed the building in an equilibrated ecological relation with its inhabitants. From the material point of view a compressed climate envelope was integrated in a spatial grid structure, departing from the boundaries of the property as a plane piece of land. If we understand and use the grid structure as a spatial possibility of a functional expansion, the shell is a kind of membrane lying in between, that is broken again and again, without leaving the outlined area. At the blurred borders of the shell, similar to cracks, as well as through purposefully arranged cubes light filters into the enclosed interior. All interior furnishing like work-tables, conference tables, shelves, wardrobe, etc …including sleeping
bunks was designed individually.

The entire construction of the building was realized in wood; the interior made of spruce, the exterior of larch and the roof of Canadian pine wood. Parts of the cubes were covered with Alucobond. The horizontal axis measure for the beam and support construction was erected on a 5×5 m grid with an internal disc-shaped core made of solid wood panels. The elevator pioneers as the first elevator in the core of a wood structure meeting the required fire safety regulations. The outer shell was built of prefabricated stable panel elements made of a timber frame construction. The visible support and beam construction defines the basic grid of the building extension and can be used as mounting aid for façade prototypes, climbing scaffold and if necessary as support structure for sun sails in front of large glazing.

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Energetic concept:
The energetic and technical concept is aimed to achieve energetic independence, as far as possible. With a wall mounting of 52 cm the shell achieves a very low heat transition coefficient. The whole building has a heating performance of 15KW. A log-wood heating system is supplied by the farmers of the surrounding area and is refilled by the employees twice a week. From the building-physics point of view the average demand for wood was about 40-45m3 per heating season. In this case, after one year the demand has gone down to 14m3.
In the summer months the building is regulated by night cooling. By means of a BUS system the sliding windows of the cubes are opened and closed depending on the outside temperature. The forest slope behind the building flushes fresh air through the building whenever needed; this effect can be optimally exploited. The use of triple glazing sliding system-Schüco (unique in Europe) reinforced with fiberglass profiles (heat transition coefficient 0,5 W/m2K) regulates the necessary cross ventilation. Wind measurements had already been carried out prior to the construction phase. Throughout the day CO2 values are constantly measured, and if required the room air is changed and the staircases are ventilated by parallel hinged windows. Further, the system is monitored by a weather station. 85% of the roof is covered with photovoltaic plants. The produced electricity is used directly in the office rooms, but also stored for emergencies. Any remaining excess energy is transferred to the public network, leaving the building operating power-autonomously. The swimming pool is heated by the excess heat from the cooling system and on the other hand the server is cooled with the water of the fire pond. Rain water is collected in a shaft and if required can be introduced into the pipes.

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Social concerns
During the planning phase the employees of the company were included in the conception and possible additional values of a “worklandscape” were explained to them. This was considered in the previously mentioned additional leisure functions and can be seen as the most important work philosophy of the company FOB. A gym was financed by the employees and eventual rents for the studios will cover the construction costs in the foreseeable future. Company cars, if changed, will be replaced by E-cars. Employees that live within 10km distance from the office will get bikes. The remaining area of 5000m2 green space will be used to create a vegetable garden including the keeping of animals (donkeys, sheep, chickens, geese,…); realization is expected in 2015. The farming will be done after consultation also by the employees, the necessary effort will be 2 -3 hours a week for every employee and in return they will have access to the harvest.

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