Office Profile

We are architects with heart and soul. We know that architecture is more than just itself.

Our architecture is rooted in the cultural landscape of Vorarlberg. The interplay of natural and cultural forces – material resources, topography and history as well as craftsmanship and everyday building culture.
This is particularly characterised by the building material wood and its processing. Tradition and innovation are intertwined, new and the existing buildings are equally familiar to us . Our work is rooted in the landscape of Vorarlberg and the interplay between the natural and cultural forces. Our philosophy and work are characterised by timber, its properties, potential and versatility. Tradition and innovation are always side by side, creating agility. New buildings and the existing structures share similarities. We are part of this landscape yet never masters of it. This is how we have development, and this is our commitment.

to the team


Our philosophy: Architecture inspired by wood

Wood – building material of the future

This is how timber is described for many reasons. Where we are based means we are close to a vast source, and timber can be procured and processed economically. As a renewable building material it not only locks in CO2, but reduces it, if the stock is replanted. Every building lifecycle assessment benefits from the use of timber. Timber has excellent interior atmospheric properties and creates balance in building physics. Timber offers design, and the built environment, diversity and greater potential. Once the building material of everyday life, its potential is unlimited today.

 

Forest

Forest covers a large amount of Europe. Almost half of Austria is forest and so is one third of both Switzerland and Germany. Only Ireland, Denmark and the UK remain under one fifth forest land. The forests of Central Europe have been growing steadily since the 19th century, currently at several thousand hectares per year. Forests are natural spaces, landscape protection, economically sound, recreational areas, culturally unique (fairy-tale forest) and for some time, recognized as CO2 sinks.  Sustainable mixed forests ensure biodiversity. The forestry and timber sector can be a big employer; in Austria it’s greater than construction and gastronomy industries.

CO2 balance

Climate change is fuelled by a surplus of CO2. Forests have the greatest potential of reducing CO2 from all ecosystems – timber locks CO2, replanting lowers CO2 levels. We need forests to help heal the damage done to our environment. The forest stock of Central Europe can positively affect the CO2 sink. To counteract climate change requires an increase demand for the utilisation timber for building or furnishing.

Planning & Prefabrication

Prefabrication is the direction for future construction and timber is perfect for this purpose. The traditional system of timber construction also key as logical and rational element production, away from the construction site, becomes increasing indispensable. Early coordination with accompanying trades is essential because of increasing complexity of the requirements. Realising the profit of faster construction is requires intensive planning. The knowledge of the construction site is partly transferred to the planning office. System construction requires practical experience in addition to technical competence. The LCT 1 has set new standards in this.

Building physics

Timber is an all-rounder, not a specialist material with just one quality. Its compressive strength is good, but not comparable to stone. Its tensile strength is good, but not comparable with steel. In standard projects, timber is used economically while in specialist hybrid construction projects, it is increasingly used in combination with material that offers a specialist quality. For example, a timber-concrete composite floor uses the concrete for sound and fire protection, and the timber for the tension. Modern timber construction relies on synergies, and demands symbiotic competence and practice.

The atmosphere

Timber delights the human senses.  It feels warm and holds onto warmth.  It smells evocative and homely. It dampens the sound and softens hard visual contrasts. This has to do with its cellular structure, its surface is neither smooth nor hard, and its texture is not compact. Its annual growth rings show varying hardness and density, revealing its insulating properties and storage capacity, as well as livening up its appearance. For an architecture that takes on structural atmospheres, timber is a natural, rich building material.

more

Craft – the basis of the built environment

Architecture, as Vitruvius says in the ‘original text’ combines “a wealth of knowledge in abundance”. In addition to theory, it is the craft, “the mechanical ability acquired through constant practice, to make a building out of any kind of material according to presented gaps. … Only those who have learned both thoroughly,” gain fame as architects. The role of craftsmanship is again emphasised by William Morris with the “Arts and Craft” movement, which strongly influenced 20th century modernism. We are committed to this tradition.

 

Traditional Mastery

Timber construction is impressive in many forms- such as German framework, Alpine block construction, Nordic stave churches, balloon framing in America and Japanese temple construction. In each case, a formula of processing has developed, with enough scope for variation. The timber houses of the Bregenzerwald, a combination of simple log and half-timber construction, were considered to be the epitome of building more than 100 years ago. The long standing passion for building, along with the influences from the Auer building school, significantly shaped the South German Baroque. The refinement acquired over this period enlivens and elevates the humble local style, and the modernity of the Vorarlberg building artists.

Innovation

The timber construction of the last half century has undergone rapid development. Based on traditional log and half-timbered on-site construction methods, forms of prefabrication have developed from timber frame to element, sheet and spatial cell construction. Also with the increased array of choices from glued timber, board pile to cross laminated timber, materials and craftsmanship now converge. This change succeeds in traditional, family-run businesses, where innovation is part of their culture. This is how Vorarlberg has become one of the leading timber-producing regions, which keeps gaining global attention.

Planning & Prefabrication

Prefabrication is the direction for future construction and timber is perfect for this purpose. The traditional system of timber construction also key as logical and rational element production, away from the construction site, becomes increasing indispensable. Early coordination with accompanying trades is essential because of increasing complexity of the requirements. Realising the profit of faster construction is requires intensive planning. The knowledge of the construction site is partly transferred to the planning office. System construction requires practical experience in addition to technical competence. The LCT 1 has set new standards in this.

Building process

With increasing focus on the cost factor, a speedy completion of the building processes becomes mandatory. Non weather dependent, prefabrication is a must, speeding up the process to creating the dry shell, piece by piece.  Timber elements that can be added to the construction site have been proven to be very effective in delivering this. Therefore, it is essential to intensify the planning to ease the building processes, compared to the standard approach of today.

more

Architecture – an achievement in synthesis

Already with Vitruvius, who wrote those first text on the subject, the term is broad. Architecture has to meet both the requirements of strength and durability, as well as usability and beauty. In his words: firmitas, utilitas, venustas. Each aspect is fundamental, none more important than the other. Unlike other arts, architecture has to do justice to all three – architecture is an achievement in synthesis. The quality of the design is measured by the harmonious integration of knowledge, experience, cultural practices and artistic intuition.

Approach & Performance

At the beginning is the conversation. Client, task and location are at the centre. Efficiency and transparency are fundamental. Our design delivery is holistic, consisting of sustainable proposals, complex linking, detailing and reasoning our choices.  We, as an office, use every technical means available today to be efficient. With a deep focus from the model right down to the last detail. The project: one entity, from the first idea through planning, the building process, billing, to the handover.

Use & Building Purpose

In the 35 years of its existence, the office has implemented around 700 projects. Building for everyday life has been a focus since the beginning, starting with residential and commercial construction, shortly followed by school buildings and communal public areas, whether simple houses, high-rise buildings or house installations. In addition to new buildings, thoughtful and kind renovations play a large role in our work portfolio. Our clients range from private individuals to companies, municipalities, government agencies and churches. We have also built both in urban space and on mountain peaks, in the Alps, from France to Vienna, and overseas.

Old & New

Rebuilding is a task of the future, as the German Federal Foundation for Building Culture notes in the face of rampant land use and energy consumption. 30% of the existing building stock is worth preserving. The evolution of the HK + Partners office is rooted in this task and we have also opened up organically, wide areas for new development. As far as old and new are concerned, competent planning and implementation complement each other in both areas. 35 years of experience in both fields establish our building culture standard.

Joining & linking

Building with timber was originally called ‘adding staves’. Starting from this fundamental basis, the systematics of the building culture of timber construction has expanded. Beams are larger in size than bricks; their compilation on the wall and roof requires coordination with each other and sophisticated linking – what is needed is constructive discipline. Morphologically, flat, articulated surfaces predominate, which are preferably at right angles to each other. This is just confirmed in the non-stave, modern table construction. The smaller the wooden components such as shingles, the freer the shape.

more

Building in theory & practice

Architecture is an empirical science, built from practice and knowledge. The construction practice is subject to constant change as new discoveries alter what is possible. This increase in knowledge is due to experiments in practice. Greater competence, practical experience and constant learning are part of our everyday office life. The experience gained is actively shared, it is meant to be passed on. Research and teaching, whether in a college or at public events, are a natural part of our office profile.

Building as an empirical science

In modern architecture, there is interplay between building practice and science. Building implements new knowledge and expands the knowledge base. The practice of HK Architekten, especially in timber construction, has always been based on empirical science. For example, in the expansion of carpentry on panel and panel construction to today’s hybrid construction, or the development of ecological construction of passive solar use on Passive Houses, to lifecycle analysis. Again and again, HK + P has set standards with pilot projects – for example with the community centre Ludesch or the Schmuttertal Gymnasium, Diedorf.

Building & Building site

With increasing complexity of the building, the stress of the construction site increases. Swift and low-emission handling become a decisive factor for the client and the project. Prefabrication provides competitive advantages, supplemented by conclusive management of construction processes. In both cases, planning is a requirement that exceeds the scope of what is common today. In excellent projects – such as the LCT-tower or the Schmuttertal Gymnasium – HK Architekten has proven its competence in this field

Teaching

Hermann Kaufmann shares a majority of his learnt experiences at the Technical University of Munich. The main teaching content of the Department of Timber Construction is the design of timber structures under the maxim ‘eco-friendly trade and creation of healthy environment’. His design-build projects, constructions realised by students in the 3rd world, combine teaching, practice and social affairs. The central research question is what contribution the biogenic building material timber can make to resource optimisation, environmental compatibility, and high architectural and building culture quality.

Social

The statement that architecture is the most social of all arts is reflected in the work of HK Architekten in a special way. Community buildings including town halls, parishes, and schools occupy a prominent place in the catalog raisonné. The linking of the social and ecological at the community center Ludesch has received many awards. Committed affordable housing construction is a priority in non-profit housing construction. In addition, depending on the situation, there are buildings that take a political stance – such as the project Transfer Wohnraum, with which dedicated members of the public develop community-friendly accommodation for migrants on their own initiative.

more

Our philosophy: Architecture inspired by wood


Office Characteristics

Areas of Expertise

Architecture planning
Site supervision
Site coordination
Timber construction specialist

Financial District

Landesgericht Feldkirch
UID ATU39334902 FN: 131640p

Member of the

Chamber of Architects & Engineering
Consultants Vlbg and Tirol 6020 Innsbruck
Membership number 23054

District Authority

Bezirkshauptmannschaft Bregenz