House in Romanshorn
private housing
Andy Senn 🔗, St. Gallen
precast concrete
BFT 03/2005
6 - 8

Two-time winner

Prefabricated home is awarded the Bauwelt prize

That construction projects can be quickly and economically completed with precast concrete components is a recognition that cannot be repeated often enough. And that with these components buildings can be created that in an international competition are distinguished with the internationally significant Bauwelt architectural prize once again points to the all too often underestimated aesthetic qualities that with this construction method can be given concrete shape.
Although the city of Romanshorn, situated directly on the shores of the Swiss side of Lake Constance, claims that this inland sea is here „at its widest,” the vast expanse of water cannot really be seen from this building site. The main reason for this could be that the house was erected on a typical development site. It is situated in the western part of this community with a population of less than 10.000, facing away from the lake. While the town with its picturesque harbor is naturally focused on the water, the new development site is oriented towards a main road situated southeasterly of it that leads into the neighboring Amriswil. As both the access to this settlement and the sun come from that direction it is not surprising that the grey glazed concrete cube presents itself from its best side also from the southeast.
The building derives its charm from the pronounced introversion of all of its rooms, which, although generously glazed, restricts observation from outside. Although the volume - in terms of its size - blends well into the surrounding environment, its compactness and its hard edges clearly sets it apart from the neighboring seemingly randomly built up area.
The cubical character of the building is further emphasized by the continuous horizontal shadow joint that is used instead of a plinth. A recessed glass faVade divides the square footprint of the ground floor into a roofed-over L-shaped veranda and a living room of similar shape. A continuous shear wall in the outer shell shields the lookout both from the wind and the view of overly curious neighbors. The usual ancillary rooms are located in the remaining square area of the plan in the northern corner of the building: a small hall with the entrance door to the house and a solid in-situ concrete stair, a guest WC and the cooking area. A bathroom tract that extends across the entire width of the building is connected to the bedroom via a dressing room.
The building services and several storage rooms are located in the basement.
The basement of the house was constructed of in-situ concrete; the rising parts of the building were to the greater part erected by the efficient post-and-beam construction method. While the concrete floors are supported by steel columns dimensioned 80/80 mm, it was decided to construct the staircase, which acts as stiffening core, also with in-situ concrete. The faVade consists of precast concrete panels measuring 3 x 10 m, which were suspended in front of the loadbearing frame. The architectural concrete units of 14 cm thickness were manufactured by the company of Schmitter AG in Widnau. Following their installation, they were insulated from the inside with foam glass insulation of 12 cm thickness. The insulation was subsequently concealed with gypsum plasterboard. The shadow joints between the precast panels were sealed with illmod sealing sections.
The client, in his brief to the St. Gallen architect, Andy Senn, had stipulated the construction of a modern, cost-efficient building. At a construction volume of around 300,000 euros this specification was not only met: it also received special recognition in form of a prize worth 2,500 euros, as part of the International Bauwelt Award. This is impressive testimony that cost-effectiveness need not necessarily mean low quality - making all parties involved in construction two-time winners in the truest sense of the word.
Robert Mehl, Aachen