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Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald (c) Peter Rigaud

The house with a beautiful view

The reduced structure’s open character is actually a tribute to the region and its landscape

The art of building
Vorarlberg Magazine

New build in Bregenzerwald

This is what living in a new build is like

At first glance, the Steurer family’s home looks out of place between the neighbouring gabled roofs that are so typical of the Bregenzerwald.

TEXT: JULIA GROSSE


Climbing the grey minimalist staircase in the Steurer family’s home, you feel a little like you’re climbing a mountain path bordered by stony slopes. Because, right at the top of the stairs, a large patio window opens up a direct view of the natural landscape. Of whimsically undulating hills and dense forest that stretch almost up to the peaks. The last step finally takes you to the main area of the family’s residence but it doesn’t feel as if you have just made your way through a building – it’s as if you’d taken a stroll in a natural outdoor landscape.

The Steurer family sometimes calls its hallway with the exposed concrete walls a “canyon”. The structure’s proximity to nature, with its flat roof that has been reduced to the essential and that is situated on a slope in the small 600-strong village of Reuthe in the Bregenzerwald, does not immediately reveal itself, though. Surrounded by cosy gable roofs, it seems just a little out of place in a cool kind of way. A block made of reinforced concrete with parts of its exterior painted black and with others clad in rust-red aluminium to which a lot of glass has been added – that lets the Steurer family’s eyes gaze into the landscape to their hearts’ content. A 15-metre long panorama window stretches across the living area and the large kitchen like a widescreen television that only shows images of nature as it progresses through the seasons over the course of the year. You can see everything, the valley, the meadows, the majestic mountains beyond. “We wanted to build a house that would, on the one hand, open up the magnificent view to the east across the neighbouring village of Bezau and the mountains beyond,” says Paul Steurer. “While, on the other, we wanted to open up the west side of the build towards the steep slope with the forest’s edge.” Clever lines of sight make the views of the natural landscape that may be enjoyed from everywhere in the house the central point of focus.

It’s a very special location, with qualities that we wanted to exploit to the full.

Paul Steurer, Architect and owner
Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald (c) Peter Rigaud
Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald Sofa (c) Peter Rigaud

Minimalist sofa landscape: the Steurer family intentionally plumbed for the cool exposed concrete on the walls and ceiling in the large living area

“We definitely wanted our home to be characterised by a reduced style – both in regard to the material and the language of form,” says the young architect Paul Steurer and gives his happily grinning son Moritz a push on the felt swing that’s suspended from the concrete ceiling. Here, on the top floor, the staircase simultaneously constitutes the concrete core around which flexible living takes place: the large living room is located on one side of the staircase and the large kitchen with long dining table on the other while the discreetly separated sleeping area and bathroom for mum and dad are to be found beyond that. Ceilings and walls in the generous living and kitchen area have been realised in exposed concrete, while a calm and cosy white was intentionally chosen for the children’s rooms on the ground floor and the parents’ sleeping area.

All the sliding doors remain open while the family goes about its daily life, and the children are able to run endlessly and play catch across the rooms. In the evening, when a little more seclusion is required, a white curtain is drawn across the panorama window while a grey sliding door closes off the living area. The grey goes perfectly with the actual grey of the exposed concrete so that the door appears to seamlessly merge with the wall. Paul Steurer’s twin brother is a carpenter and provided lots of help with many of the details, from the staircase to the sliding doors.

It took two years for the architect and his wife Susanne to plan the many details of their house before they were able to commence building in 2007. And it’s not least in these details that a small tribute has been paid to handcrafted perfection, a quality that goes almost without saying in Vorarlberg, particularly in the Bregenzerwald.

We wanted our house to be reduced: both in regard to material and form.

Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald (c) Peter Rigaud
Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald Aussicht (c) Peter Rigaud
Familie Steurer Reuthe (c) Peter Rigaud
Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald Bad (c) Peter Rigaud

Light flows into the kitchen from all directions and you can admire the landscape while standing at the sink. The panorama window is 15 metres wide

Paul Steurer with his son

The family intentionally chose a calm and cosy white for the children’s rooms on the ground floor as well as for the parents’ sleeping area and bathroom

The family previously lived in an apartment in Dornbirn before they moved to their house. It’s only 22 kilometres from the rural surroundings of the Reuthe district to Vorarlberg’s largest city. Which just goes to show how varied the landscape in Vorarlberg is and how quickly all its different facets – from lakes to high mountains – can be experienced. “We often spent time with the parents-in-law here at the weekends – they live right next door. We were immediately thrilled with the idea of building our own home in this place.” The green slope on the patio side means that the family is really close to nature here: the two kids only have to skip a few steps across the patio when they want to play in the natural garden – which is situated directly on the mountain meadow. Cows graze here in summer, the leaves radiate in the style of a magnificent Indian summer in autumn.

And the floor-to-ceiling windows allow us to enjoy the panoramic view at the front. Which means that we are able to take advantage of both.

Water trickles from a mountain spring directly into a concrete trough

Due to the fact that the ground floor extends into theslope and needed to be set in concrete, the Steurer family decided that the reduced wooden boxes that have long since joined the historic farmhouses and that have become a familiar feature across the landscapes of Vorarlberg were out of the question. They couldn’t see the point in building a concrete structure and then pretending that it was a house built from wood. “Wood would also have actually not been the natural choice because we aren’t surrounded by new or even historic wooden architecture,” says Paul Steurer.

The cellar rooms are located on the ground floor – half of which has been built into the slope. The bright children’s rooms, which have a view of the valley, are located directly opposite. And when the Steurer family wishes to breathe and hear nature in addition to looking at it on a nice day, all they have to do is simply open the patio door. Water trickles from a mountain spring directly into a minimalist concrete trough and the fragrance of the meadows fills the rooms. Particularly when the farmer has just mowed the grass. Nature and the ultra-modern have rarely looked so good together.

Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald Terrasse (c) Peter Rigaud
Haus Steurer Reuthe Bregenzerwald Treppe (c) Peter Rigaud

Nature up close: all routes inside the house lead to the beautiful, large mountain meadow. And water trickles from a spring directly into an elegant minimalist concrete trough

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