Open, and yet closed
The visitor encounters the Studio Am Kogl as a distinctive structure characterised by a striking element of design - vertical timber cladding covering the entire facade and roof - which Johannes Kaufmann describes as a 'slatted screen'.
The building is located on a steep slope to the west of Semriach with views to the village and the local Schockl Mountain, which dominates the hilly countryside to the north of Graz. Viewed from the road, the building appears closed, revealing nothing of its interior to passers-by. The entrance is not easy to ind at irst sight, for the large, equally timber-cladded gate virtually 'disappears' when it closes lush with the facade. The door handle, too, was designed such that it is barely detectable. In the evening, when the lights behind the windows shimmer faintly through the facade, the outlines of the interior are vaguely discernible. The surprise is therefore even greater when you enter the building. Beyond the main entrance, which leads straight into the upper storey due to the building's location on a slope, you step into an access zone that was 'inserted' across the whole length of the building, and which is only delimited by the timberclad screen on the eastern facade. The facade is almost fully openable by means of an especially designed folding mechanism, transforming the rather introverted character of the house into the opposite. Once the facade is open, the studio building makes an open and inviting impres sion, both from the inside and outside. Views over the countryside are vast and boundless. Since the folding elements are easy to operate, the owner can decide spontaneously on how much openness, light and nature she wants to let into the studio.
The living area to the right was designed to meet basic, practical requirements. It only measures six by five meters, featuring an inserted loor that ofers ample room for overnight accommodation. The studio building does not possess a separate bedroom. On the left, the so-called winter studio stretching from loor to gable is entered through a fully glazed partition between the studio and the access area; the latter can be used as a balcony, too. The 'summer studio' on the lower storey is accessed via a staircase. It is the largest and most open space in the house and is only separated from the garden by the timber screen, which is, just as on the upper storey, almost fully openable here. When the screen is open, it is as if you were painting in the garden.
One of the main objectivesaddressed by owner Annemarie Dreibholz-Humele and architect Johannes Kaufmann was to combine workplace and landscape. Out of respect for the rural surroundings of Semriach as a climatic spa, they envisioneda barn-like building as a leitmotif. For both, anything but timber was out of the question. A further objective was to contribute to the local build ing culture. First, the 'barn' was prefabricated in a carpenter's workshop in the Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg. Delivering it to the building site in Styria proved to be a logistic challenge that was mastered perfectly: the whole building was erected upon previously prepared foundations within just three weeks.
The facade's timber cladding interacts with the floors of smoothed screed in the living and working areas, and of timber in the access area. Wood grain walls and all the other surface materials radiate pleasant simplicity. None of the timber flooring was impregnated. Rainwater penetrating the slats of the screen, or any other traces of wear, bring the loor to life. Meanwhile, a faint patina on the wooden boards enhances the natural character of the material. Behind its timber cladding, the Studio Am Kogl unites a simple, yet functional ground plan with smart, unobtrusive details and near-to-nature materials. Here, you feel comfortable straightaway, and you can imagine that this well thought-out studio provides places of retreat and openness alike.
- Anne Martischnig