Office Building Is Prefab, Passivehouse, Mostly Wood, and Beautiful Too.

©. Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

Did we miss any TreeHugger buttons there? Hermann Kaufmann shows that you can have it all.

The idea of Passive House design is often confusing, particularly in North America, where a house is, well, a house. In Germany, where Passivhaus came from, Haus means building.

That's why it's fun to show tweets like this from Architect Paul Testa in the UK, demonstrations of Passive House projects that aren't houses, like this administrative building designed by Hermann Kaufmann, the Illwerke Zentrum Montafon (IZM) in Rodund, at the far west end of Austria. It sits in an "artificially created, three-part equalization pool" that is part of its heat pump heating and cooling system.

Entrance to building

© Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

The building is actually a hybrid, a combination of wood and concrete. "The concrete on the top brings mass into the building, reduces the transmission of sound and dampens the vibrations. The connection details are designed so that they accommodate the different tolerances of the individual trades."

facade of building

© Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

At the time it was built in 2013, it was the largest wooden office building in Europe, over 100,000 square feet. I do not know how we missed it, but we have shown other hybrid buildings by Kaufmann, including the CREE building and the world's tallest timber tower in British Columbia.

interior of offices

© Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

It is a mix of materials, including a steel spine to open up the core. But most of what you see is wood; evidently the client, "a power and utility supplier, was interested in a very sustainable building to represent its culture and core values."

The client may be an energy supplier, but will not be much of an energy consumer here, as it hits the Passive House standard of using no more than 30 kWh/m2/year, which I will not convert to American but will note is very little energy.

offices working

© Architekten Hermann Kaufmann

It pushes a lot of TreeHugger buttons; it's prefabricated, and was assembled in six weeks. It's Passive House, built to one of the toughest energy efficiency standards in the world. It's mostly wood, our favourite renewable material. And it's beautiful. More at Hermann Kaufmann's site

UPDATE: I should not have missed this building all these years, especially since it got great coverage from TreeHugger regular Elrond Burrell in 14,500 tonnes of Exceptional Integrated Architecture.