Stüben, a steep mountain plot above Dornbirn, offers views over the Vorarlberg Rhine Valley, the alpine landscape from the First to the Swiss mountains and in the northwest over Lake Constance. The house captures the panorama with its largely glazed living area on the top floor, and in its formal language it creates references to the architecture of traditional farmhouses.
The found topography largely determines the concept of the house. A narrow path leads between old pear trees to the entrance on the lower level.. The basement and the sleeping floor above disappear mostly in the terrain. The two storeys are solidly constructed and show themselves as exposed concrete plinth. The distinctive cantilevered living floor in timber construction with a surrounding terrace and a wide, flat pitched saddle roof characterise the house, convey lightness as well as a feeling of security.
The living space is defined by the spacious roof with white fir cladding, the oak floor and the materialized transitions to the outside of the terraces. The kitchen and the oven act as architectural elements of the room and are integrated into the exterior wall of the house. The reduced materialisation of the house with concrete, wood and steel continues in the furnishing. It creates an unagitated overall design that makes the house a place of retreat and nature experience.
Dietrich|Untertrifaller’s office, from its foundation until today, has generated an output of one to three single-family homes per year. One may be inclined to ask why a well-established interna -
tionally successful office, operating from multiple locations, is still involved in the often time-consuming and laborious process of designing private residences. What other architectural offices usually only reserve for extremely prestigious clients remains part of the core business for the office.
On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that at the beginning of their careers it was particularly the house-building middle class of Vorarlberg that showed a taste for quality architecture, stimulated the rise of the “Vorarlberg architecture miracle” and became the significant clientele for architects in the region.
On the other hand, it allowed approaches to be applied and tested that also work well in larger dimensions. A close relationship to the landscape, a dialog between old and new, a contemporary interpretation of traditional designs, elaborate spatial sequences in compact
volumes, clear structures, the strict order or the skillful celebration of a lifestyle – all this can be formidably exercised with a private residence in a relatively short time.
Also not to be overlooked is the level of craftsmanship and technical sophistication that can be
swiftly agreed upon and implemented at eye level with the architect, contractor and constructor. This is especially the case in Vorarlberg, which is rich in talented craftsmen. A strong focus on craftsmanship, attractive finishes, precise details – all of these aspects are also hallmarks of the single-family homes which the practice has designed over the years, in meticulous detail and often down to the very furnishing – both on their home turf and in neighboring countries.
The office, founded in 1994, is one of the iconic agencies of the renowned School of Vorarlberg. The entire spectrum ranging from single-family homes through alterations of existing buildings to large-scale buildings and urban structures defies specialization, constantly challenges and inspires creativity and an inquiring mind. Flashy architecture in the formal sense is not our style, but rather exciting architecture is, which is always developed from the relationship to the respective place and its environment and the required program. A decisive factor in all our work is the resource-saving and appropriate use of materials and structures, with a particular interest in and commitment to contemporary timber construction. The office is lead by Helmut Dietrich, Much Untertrifaller, Dominik Philipp and Patrick Stremler and employs today an international team of 70 architects working in Austria (Bregenz and Vienna), Switzerland (St Gallen), France (Paris) and Germany (Munich).