C Werkraumhaus Andelsbuch (c) Peter Rigaud
built by architect Peter Zumthor and local tradespeople. The open structure with the glass façade is a tribute to craftsmanship.
TEXT: JULIA GROSSE
A slight squealing noise can often be heard coming from the main road that takes drivers through Andelsbuch. From the cars, usually driven by people just passing through, that suddenly start slowing down – not because there’s a speed trap but because of the architecture! A minimalist glass structure with a generous dark and overhanging wooden roof, designed by the renowned Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, was built by the tradespeople of the region right in the centre of the village in 2013. The landscape appears to literally flow through the Werkraumhaus’ glass façade which is so extraordinary and inviting that visitors just have to stop and take a seat at one of the wooden tables located in the comfortable interior or, on a warm day, outside in the shade under the overhanging roof.
No other place in Europe is able to boast such a density of tradespeople as the Bregenzerwald who are able to draw on an entire region’s know-how and skills that have come down through the generations. The Werkraumhaus is an open place for these skills, a tribute to regional craftsmanship, but also to innovation, daring and a precise eye for new forms.
For Peter Zumthor, the Werkraumhaus is a joint project between him and the tradespeople. He needs highly skilled tradespeople to realise his visions, which is why working with them is important to him.
Tradespeople from the region showcase their work at the Werkraumhaus
Some people will often wonder, for example, how a delicate chair is actually made but there’s no way that they would simply stroll into a carpentry shop and ask. “So we could actually be regarded as a showroom as well as a link to the many regional firms who present their work here.” A recent Werkraum show, for instance, was devoted to the around 90 member businesses – carpenters, upholsterers, shoemakers, tailors, goldsmiths, florists and felters – which presented their works across the entire space: visitors spent whole afternoons here admiring children’s swings made from brilliantly coloured felt, running their hands across tables made from maple wood or pulling out superbly constructed drawers as if in a perfect place built from quality and good style.
The reduced-looking Werkraumhaus with its glass façade and exposed concrete walls meets the curious amazement of its visitors with hospitality: the restaurant inside serves lunch, drinks, tea and coffee as well as homemade cakes. And the team only has to draw the soft and heavy loden curtains that hang from the dark wooden ceiling to create a more intimate atmosphere for smaller events.
Transparent platform: the Werkraumhaus combines innovative craftsmanship with a perfect view of the landscape
Art and perfection are found in the courageous and driven devotion to the most daring of details
the around 90 Werkraum members show their products – from fine furniture to innovative building solutions – on 700 m²
Andelsbuch also welcomes its guests with an idyll of meadows and timber buildings
The Werkraumhaus is not the only minimalist structure in the village. Although Andelsbuch does receive visitors with an architecturally-rustic idyll consisting of mountain meadows and decorated wooden balconies with brilliantly flowering geraniums, the air of tranquillity is deceptive: the two-storey wooden cube that is home to Andelsbuch’s local council offices and that has aged elegantly like a Hollywood star with good genes, stands opposite the Werkraumhaus: the wood has taken all the time in the world to assume the grey-brown hue that is typical of the region – for many an aficionado, the best shade that a colour can be. The new headquarters for the Wälder Versicherung insurance company, which has also been built from wood, is located just a few metres further along. And right in the middle of all this is the Werkraumhaus. A little as if it had always been there. An inviting and modest centre of calm that will in future continue to cause many a motorist driving through the village to slow down.
Bregenzerwald Werkraum: Summary
The Werkraumhaus is a meeting place for its members and a proverbial showcase for the trades: these are the two fundamental thoughts that characterise Peter Zumthor’s design. The structure intends to create a point of contact between the tradespeople and their customers, where the merits of handcrafted products are conveyed in a vivid and clever style.
- Products by the member firms are exhibited in winter and spring
- Exhibitions that focus on specific subjects relating to the trades, design and the culture of building are presented in summer and autumn
- The hall with 700 square metres may be flexibly arranged, as an exhibition space or a venue for concerts, balls and more
- The dark characteristic roof is 72.60 metres long, the building is 7.80 metres high
- Available: a DVD documenting the construction: “WerkRaum – 80 Bregenzerwälder Handwerker bauen ihr Haus mit Peter Zumthor”