“2226” is the name the architects at Baumschlager Eberle dreamed up for the office block in a commercial estate located in Lustenau in Austria’s Vorarlberg region. The mysterious moniker takes its cue from the temperature range that office workers tend to feel comfortable at – namely between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. The architects maintain this range entirely without HVAC technology of any kind, relying on low-tech instead – while likewise opting for quite simple strategies and traditional materials. Nonetheless, the zero-energy house cannot do without technology entirely. Sensors control natural ventilation via narrow window vents, while luminaires by Zumtobel ensure an energy-efficient lighting concept.
Thick concrete walls and floors store the heat created inside, with computers, people and luminaires acting as “natural” sources of heat. The extraordinary solidity of the walls and the horizontal surfaces store their energy. The exterior walls are almost 80 centimeters thick and built with ordinary perforated bricks, giving the structure with its deeply recessed windows a stout look-and-feel. Thanks to its white rendering work the building is nonetheless tasteful and refined, with barely noticeable steps in the façade taking away some of its weight. Only at second glance might you notice that some of the floors slightly protrude to the side, which is particularly noticeable on the corners of the building. A slight shift in kilter that causes a subtle oscillation in the tectonics of the perforated frontage.
The traditional materials used for the outside walls – two layers of clay tiles and lime rendering – serve to insulate the building during winter. These are considerably more sustainable in production compared to ordinary insulating materials made from crude oil. And with their low-tech approach the architects also saved some money into the bargain: At 1,000 euros per square meter, building costs are extremely low, yet Baumschlager Eberle have most certainly not compromised on aesthetic qualities – after all they themselves have their office in this building. So they made sure they got all the details right – down to the elegant Linaria luminaires by Zumtobel. Given the tall ceiling heights (3.80 meters in the offices and as much as 4.50 meters in the gallery spaces on the ground floor) luminaires were the ideal choice to provide optimum light. For the consistent illumination of the artworks the ceilings have been fitted with parallel rows of Linaria strip lighting. In the offices, by contrast, a single, elegant LED lighting strip ensures bright, comfortable light – standard lamps at the workspaces round out the ensemble to cater to employees’ individual lighting preferences.
In each room sensors determine the quality of the air: oxygen content, humidity and, of course, the temperature. “Houses are immobile, can absorb a lot of energy, and are therefore slow and lag in their response to outside environmental factors,” Dietmar Eberle explains. By contrast, sensors are quick to control the narrow window vents, providing fresh air or comfortable temperatures. These sensors even interact with computers or luminaires if a little warmth is required during cold winter nights. So essentially the basic concept hinges on a surprisingly simple structure built with traditional material, while high-tech expertise for the control software and lighting concepts by Zumtobel ensure contemporary and comfortable workplaces with a temperature of between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.