Dietrich Untertrifaller went to great lengths to ensure that this striking timber-clad fire station fit the vernacular architecture of its site in Sulzberg-Thal, Austria. Unlike any fire station we have ever seen before, this beautiful building was integrated into a sloping landscape and features a facade of beautiful silver fir timber that grows rapidly in Europe. Transparent on two sides, the building has become an iconic facility that is partially open to the public view, facilitating a kind of dialogue between passersby and the workers who keep them safe from fire!
Although the 604 square meter Sulzberg-Thal fire station is a municipal building, it fits in seamlessly with this tiny village – mostly thanks to its timber cladding that is so typical of the region. The vehicle depot and control room are separated from the rest of the functions, which are in turn arranged according to height and temperature. A ground level entrance provides access, and the top floor of the building is populated with a classroom, archival material, an office, and other rooms that are accessible to the public.
A comfortable interior microclimate is achieved by a series of passive design interventions. While continuous glazing permits all kinds of daylighting, external shading mitigates excess solar gain during summer months. Lastly, the fire station is sited strategically in relation to the topography and features forecourts that create a separate square for the village. We love this building, with its illuminated tower, and bucolic country feel, which manages to somehow emphasize the protective role that fire men and women play in any society!