When Sigurd Larsen was tapped by a young Austrian couple to design a home on their family land in Oberösterreich, the Danish architect decided to bring his expertise with prefabrication to the alpine site.
The clients, who were planning to raise a family, gave Larsen’s team considerable creative freedom to craft a contemporary home that would embrace the landscape both in form and function. Large windows and glazed walls frame views of the region’s snowcapped mountains and green valley, while the prefabricated cross-laminated timber structure follows the site’s natural slope and allowed for construction with minimal site impact.
Although the structure’s timber envelope was built off-site in a factory, the architects highlight the region's reputation for quality carpentry with the use of local craftsmanship for the larch cladding and interior furnishings.
"This is our first house in the Alps, and it was a privilege to work with Austrian carpenters," says Larsen, who named the project the Mountain House after its surroundings.
"They are very well educated and bring lots of ideas to the table. With all projects, many decisions on details are made on the construction site during the building process, regardless of how many drawings we produce. So it’s a pleasure when the carpenter calls you with a clever and beautiful solution and not only a problem."
The simple gabled shape references the rural vernacular, while clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic speak to Sigurd Larsen’s contemporary design sensibilities.
Split into two floors informed by the natural slope, the 1,938-square-foot residence is accessed from the upper level that houses the garage, entrance hall, an office, and the sleeping quarters—including the cantilevered master bedroom, two secondary bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The open-plan communal areas are located downstairs, as is another tell-tale staple of traditional Austrian architecture.
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"The element of a wooden bench in the kitchen (Eckbank) is an essential part of an Austrian home," explains Larsen. "In this house, the bench is located at the key point where the house meets the green sloping hills. Together with a staircase, this element forms the heart of the house and highlights the special feature of the unique landscape."
Prefabricating the building envelope in a controlled factory environment allowed Larsen’s team to construct the walls, roof, and upper floor deck quickly. However, transporting the prefabricated building elements was a major challenge given the area’s narrow and winding mountain roads. Once on site, the building envelope was assembled in just 12 hours.
"Full access to the green meadows from the living areas and framed views of the snowy Alps formed the Mountain House in Austria," notes Larsen.
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Builder/General Contractor/Cabinetry: Holzbau Hurth
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