This video shows an interview with Austrian architect Hermann Kaufman. He is renowned in Europe for his inspirational design of technically advanced low energy buildings, Hermann’s work meets Europe’s most stringent energy saving standard, Passivhaus. Kaufmann studied Architecture in Innsbruck and Vienna and in 1983 founded an office in Schwarzach together with Christian Lenz. He has taught in several universities and since 2002 has acted as Professor of Architecture in Munich Technical University. Hermann has won awards including the Global award for sustainable architecture in 2007, and the prestigious International Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award in 2010. During interview, Kaufman talks about the Bregenzerwald’s architectural and wooden culture.
Kaufman explains that Bregenzerwald is famous in and outside Austria for its high-quality wooden architecture. What makes it special is that their craftsmen have learned to view tradition pro-actively. Not looking back, but looking forward. He adds that they are very innovative craftsmen, with a strong ethos for their craft. Kaufman explains that for him as an architect, that is very important because he has to work closely with them. High-quality craftsmanship is what makes their buildings work. That is also why their buildings are usually very simple structures, with very clear lines, but with the fantastically beautiful, delicate and precise details that their craftsmen are able to produce. Architecture and construction are the source of 40% of the world’s total energy consumption. So architects have a responsibility to improve that in the future.
Photo from bregenzerwald.com
Kaufman convinces that for him a building means continuously coming to terms with that which already exists. The old buildings of his region define the face of the region. So it is quite important to take on the buildings already there. That means to repair some of the sins of the past through renovation and reconstruction. Kaufman thinks that is a key concern for architects: looking for new answers while honoring the spirit of tradition. In Bregenzerwald, that means simple, clear, pragmatic, energy-efficient architecture, dominated by material wood. He explains that they try to transfer that pragmatism to the present day. Of course, the architecture has a different look. Naturally, it uses a modern-day language of forms, but the basic attitude remains unchanged.
Kaufman describes that not all buildings in a resort region are tourism-related: there are commercial buildings as well. That architecture typically features large volumes, big frames. They must also be well integrated into the landscape. One important factor is the selection of material for such a building. For that, it is clear that you use wood in a region where wood is the traditional local material. Wood wearers naturally, it takes on a patina and by doing so, engage a beautiful dialogue with nature. Kaufman adds that architecture plays a key role in that area, because these structures are dominant buildings in a landscape, and when you do them badly, you destroy the area. So it is extremely important that these projects, the volumes that you are creating here, are also carried out with high architectural quality.
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