Hugely innovative

The architect Simon Speigner implements prototype projects based on the Passive House Standard. An ecological building designed by him became a pilgrimage destination for planners from all over the world. At his office location, he now runs an in-house hydroelectric power plant.

If your great-grandfather and grandfather were lumberjacks and your father was a carpenter, it seems almost inevitable that you'll also end up working with wood. Simon Speigner became an architect — and decided to use wood early on due to his family history. "It was also logical to work with wood because of our focus on ecological construction," he says. Also, it soon became clear that building with Passive House technology would make a lot of sense. 

He could certainly embellish his story with details of all the prizes he has won. The Salzburg regional energy prize, timber construction prize of Upper Austria and Styria, architectural award of the state of Styria, state award for architecture and sustainability, and a few more. With Simon Speigner, however, you get the feeling that he prefers to let his work speak for itself. 

His big breakthrough came with the "Samer Mösl" Passive House, the first large-scale Passive House residential complex in Austria with 60 residential units spread over 4,500 m2. An 8.2-million-euro project, which after its creation became a "pilgrimage destination for international planners", as the newspaper, Salzburger Nachrichten, once wrote. And for many reasons: the building's timber framework was erected in just ten weeks, and thanks to the Passive House Standard, it is also economical in operation. Only indigenous wood was used, along with 24-cm cellulose insulation. There is fresh air ventilation, the 200 m2 solar energy system on the roof provides the hot water and the remaining roof surfaces are green. Even the rainwater is reused — for irrigation of the green areas. 

Speigner also remained faithful to this project during the larger projects that followed. "At present, we take part in many competitions," says Speigner, "which results in work on municipal buildings. But we also do a lot of planning for detached, single-family houses." 

Having studied architecture in Graz and Vienna, Speigner has run his own architectural practice since 2001. The company sps ÷ architekten, which he currently heads, has existed since 2006. Even though he has pushed through the Passive House Standard throughout his career, an interesting detail remains: "We've never managed to build a certified Passive House. The builders weren't prepared to do this because they never wanted to pay for the certification," he says, smiling. And he reveals something else: "Passive Houses always had a bad reputation, so we always used to create Passive Houses, but did not call them that." He smiles again. 

The fact that Simon Speigner has already made a lot of progress in his professional career is not only revealed by his awards and completed projects, but also by his company's growth. When his office became too small in 2011, Speigner did not simply move into a new building — instead, he fulfilled a dream for Christine and Franz Gastager while simultaneously creating a new workplace. On the site of a decommissioned sawmill, approval had been grant- ed for a small power plant, which was awaiting implementation. 

You can read the whole article in „The Isoceller 03”