Helmut Stifter, Angelika Bachmann and Philipp Buxbaum on Flexible & Local
Helmut Stifter & Angelika Bachmann
Stifter & Bachmann Architects
Philip Buxbaum from SmartVoll Architekten and Helmut Stifter & Angelika Bachmann from Stifter & Bachmann Architects present their projects, in which location, nature and community-involvement play an utmost important role in the inspiration of their work.
According to Philip Buxbaum, SmartVoll architects, reuse is the transformative process of turning a “depressing, sad, abandoned sites” into “lively places for human beings”. His firm did various projects in and around the Salzburg area, with all of them having some sort of access to mountains or rivers. Further, these places were used as storage places at best and were not taken care of, however, through adaptive reuse they are made available for people.
Indeed, demolition waste from the building industry is three times as high as the waste of households (numbers from Austria). Thus, simply saving the materials – oftentimes concrete – would significantly save a lot of money and energy; amongst other things the transportation of such waste is omitted too. Buxbaum further demonstrates that building something new with e.g. concrete then has its own high carbon footprint. With material such as concrete comes the need for gravel/sand, which is the second most used resource after water and comes with its own ecological implications, especially in places where this sand is produced/collected.
Angelika Bachmann and Helmut Stifter, from Stifter + Bachmann architects, showcase different projects in South Tyrol. One key feature of the landscape they work in is its diversity: from 300 up to 3000 meters above sea, they have to adapt not only to the environment but also try to take into consideration established construction traditions into their projects, e.g. by emulating roofing from farm houses or town houses, often on a much bigger scale. This furthers the dialogue between “the old and the new”.
For another project Stifter + Bachmann show in what way the environment can inspire their designs. This takes inspiration in a crystal, which has a solid and opaque exterior and is transparent in the middle, which is then also transferred onto the building. Another example is a hikers’ shelter hut at 3000 meters above sea level situated in a bed of mountains and therefore only accessible for a few months in the year due to the harsh conditions. The shape of the shelter was inspired by the monolithic rock face in the area and realized with copper, which is a practical material for working in cold temperatures and easy in maintenance. Although very bright at first, after a while, the color of the building adjusted to its surroundings and therefore integrated to the initial inspiring landscape.