At Georg Bechter’s workshop in Hittisau, it’s possible to witness firsthand how beauty can arise from necessity. Out back, a huge conservatory stretches over three levels and a large part of the length of the building. Within this glass structure, everything fits together. The winter garden docks with the original outer shell of the barn. The room performs many functions, serving as a sheltered winter garden, lounge area, staircase, heat storage, greenhouse for fruit and vegetables, communal kitchen, retreat, meeting zone and connecting platform. Here, the inside and outside meld together.
The space also provides access to the different areas of the building. Access is provided, for instance, to the plaster manufacture area for lamps and lighting solutions on the ground floor, as well as to the adjacent packaging and shipping station. Meanwhile, on the second floor, there is entry to the reception and communication areas. This leads up to the workstations via a sculptural staircase. Here, the space is openly organised around a central core; everywhere, there are lines of sight to the individual levels and galleries open up islands of space that allow for privacy. The materials on the ceilings and walls, even the ones that you don’t see, also absorb sound and the design is thoroughly resource-friendly, attractive and proportionate.
The wood is sourced from the forest nearby and the clay for the walls comes from their own excavation pit. Meanwhile, the ceilings are covered with dyed sheep’s wool, whilst the walls are insulated with thick straw bales. This is in homage to the building’s former function. “These days we do design work where straw and hay used to be stored,” says Georg Bechter. “Insulating the building with this material seemed to be a logical step. 650 bales of straw were inserted into the existing timber frame, and clay plaster was applied on top. Even the floor is nothing more than pounded clay. After being sanded and refined multiple times, it is now clay terrazzo.” All materials used can be reclaimed by nature or reused without further processing.