Place and surroundings
The small village of Schönbach is embedded in the beautiful natural scenery of the Upper Lusatian Highlands landscape conservation area.
Besides the idyllic natural surroundings, it also features numerous of the distinctive “Umgebindehaus” half-timbered houses for which Upper Lusatia is known beyond the region. In this special construction method, the main room on the ground floor is a separate wooden log structure that is surrounded by a circumferential support system.
The Faktorenhaus in Schönbach was built around 1785 as a prestigious residential and commercial building with a half-timbered structure. “Faktoren” were canvas merchants who supplied cloth processors with yarns and equipment in those days.
Concept and guiding idea
The entire Faktorenhaus is listed as an important cultural monument.
Against this background, the overriding aim was to preserve the original look of the “Faktorenhaus”, but to update it in a contemporary way with a design adapted to the new uses.
On this basis, the building was freed of all extensions and added structural elements and returned to its clear cubature and supporting structure.
Historically existing structures are emphasised. New elements are deliberately presented as such. Inside, the timber framing and beams were largely uncovered and made visible. On the one hand, to bring more natural daylight into the building, and on the other hand, to create a spatial experience that is not apparent from the outside. The exposed and stripped-back ceiling and wall surfaces result in large air and light spaces as well as galleries that create visual links between the different office levels. Access to the upper office rooms is provided by a new staircase on the north side, which also acts as the required first escape route, allowing direct evacuation into the open air.
Surface and material
Materials and surfaces were used according to the principle of “what you see is what you get”. History and zeitgeist go hand in hand here.
Quarry stone, marsh lime sludge and charred wood in combination with hand-carved white decorative frames characterise the exterior appearance. Inside, natural clay plasters and light casein colours contrast with dark crude steel or reflective chrome steel surfaces. Sound- absorbing, anthracite-coloured carpets were used for the office and meeting room floors. The other surfaces are laid with large-format, oiled oak planks. For the log cabin, historical planks found in the building were reconditioned and reused. All other public areas are laid with cement tiles.
The three main floors feature differently coloured sanitary facilities. Compared to the subdued colouring of the main structure, brighter colours such as violet, purple and turquoise were used for these subordinate rooms.
The existing and the new complement each other and form a natural unity. The building remains an “Umgebindehaus”, but one that is of the here and now.