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School Complex Collège Simone Veil

A Sun-filled Parallelepiped

Dietrich Untertrifaller Architekten with Colas Durand

It is always heartening to tell the story of the Austrian architecture practice founded in 1994 by Helmut Dietrich and Much Untertrifaller that reads like the fabled success story of a provincial firm rising from humble beginnings to world class acclaim. All true. First set up in Vorarlberg, Austria, the firm now has six international offices. What is often passed over though is how this has been achieved thanks to the founders’ solid grounding in architecture and shared dedication to a pure - although in no way schematic - concept of architecture consolidated during years of seminal experience in their early days working for a range of important European names that led them to experiment with several different languages and theories. The same applies to the firm’s two partners - Dominik Philipp and Patrick Stremler - who over time have come to head Dietrich | Untertrifaller Architekten. They too started out working for important European firms and today continue to influence the firm’s architectural choices of materials and its focus on environmental sustainability. Dietrich | Untertrifaller Architekten - written with that strange graphic sign “|”, in deliberate contrast to an additive or complementary “and”, as if to underline the egalitarian character of the firm - has long favored wood as their architectural material of choice. Over the last 25 years, they have proved their skill at exploiting not only the intrinsic aesthetic and technical qualities of wood but also the possibilities now offered by engineered timber thanks to recent strides in research. This inevitably leads to remarking on the disparity between Europe and America as regards the research into and the use of engineered timber in building and construction, a theme this issue has already explored. America seems only recently to have grasped the importance of timber as a way of making a quantum leap in environmentally sustainable construction, not only...

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