Strength lies in the centre

Ronacher architects plan large public buildings and hotels throughout Austria. Herwig Ronacher chooses to rely on a symbiosis of wood and solid construction, preferring to plan around the centre.

Ecological building is the most normal thing in the world for Team Ronacher. The first house, designed in 1982, was made from wood even then. So, houses had already been built of wood long before this had become modern. “Wooden construction was still an architectural vision 30 years ago. I would like to add that the dialogue between wood and solid construction has interested me from the outset.” says Herwig Ronacher, who back in 1988 wrote a diploma thesis on the combination of wood and solid construction. A house need not always be made entirely from wood. Even the first Ronacher house had a reinforced concrete core.

In recent years Ronacher has increasingly leaned towards cellulose and away from other forms of insulation. For one simple reason: cellulose is a sustainable insulation material, in keeping with the team’s philosophy. It proves to be particularly effective from the perspective of building physics. This fits well into the concept of ‘Architecture of the Centre’. Herwig Ronacher has recently written a book on this subject. What does that mean exactly?

From onion-skin principle to architecture of the centreIn architecture there is the so-called onion principle.

According to this principle the warmest room is built in the centre. The feel-good factor is higher in the centre. The ‘architecture of the centre’ arose from this principle and a great deal of consideration. “The key theme of the book is the significance of the centre in life and in architecture. The centre stands for balance and the holistic.” There are five important areas, aesthetics, technology, function, ecology and economics. It is about balance and linking together the traditional and the modern. But it is also about building bridges.When building in the countryside the building should be modelled on the traditional buildings in the area rather than artificially creating something new. In architecture, the ground plan of a house also focuses initially on the centre. Concepts are mostly designed by building around a strong centre – regardless of whether the building is a residential building, a hotel or a public building. This is often in contrast to the very harsh, linear concepts found in modern architecture. The Ronachers believe that people feel more at ease in houses with a clear centre.

You can read the whole interview in ISOCELLER 02