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In the Austrian municipality of Breitenwang, in North Tyrol, a new community centre was inaugurated in July 2010. The client was a bank, and the municipality will be renting the building for the foreseeable future, in order to unite all relevant local institutions under one roof. The residents will benefit the most from this arrangement, because they will no longer have to travel difficult roads between the town office, library, and doctor’s practices. All these institutions are now centrally located in Breitenwang in a beautiful new building which also houses apartments.

Against the impressive backdrop of the Alps, the community centre, designed by Barbist Architektur, also offers a public space, which does not compete with the traditional town centre around the church. Rather, it supplements the community by creating a secular town centre, offering Breitenwang a generously dimensioned, multi-use open space. Wood, stone, and window slats in the colours of the municipal coat of arms connect the building to the alpine location and the topography of Breitenwang.

What is remarkable is the energetic conception of the building, which offers the employees an uncommon form of comfort, particularly on the ground floor. The transparency of the ground floor does not necessitate cold window areas or sun-heated interiors. Triple glazing keeps the interior surface of the glass from feeling cold – it’s almost room temperature. A total of 54 vertically placed louvres made of powder coated aluminium in front of the façade ensure that the interior space is comfortable. Measuring 2.80 metres high and 70 cm wide and with a biconvex shape, these louvres (Reynaers Brise Soleil 100) were made to the architect’s specifications. Sun protection, antiglare protection, daylight redirection, and burglary protection: the louvres fulfil a number of functions.
It is worth mentioning that both automatic and manual operation can be achieved through a single control system, allowing the comfort level at the individual workplaces to be optimised. At any season or time of day, regardless of the weather, the system ensures the optimum values for heat regulation, shade, angle of light and degree of light. The twelve motors do more than just adjust the louvers according to the position of the sun, they position them so that the heat and light conditions in the interior are optimal. Every change in the exterior weather conditions is picked up by a weather sensor; based on its information the software automatically adjusts the louvres to the best position. The municipal employees appreciate the comfort this offers, especially because they can always change the position of the louvres using manual controls. After one hour the automatic controls are reactivated. During the weekend the façade is completely closed off, which also benefits security. The ability to redirect daylight significantly contributes to the comfortable atmosphere in the offices and semi-public spaces.

A high-tech construction, primarily motivated by energy issues – including heat recovery and ventilation – is often assumed to be unable to ensure sufficient comfort in the interior. In Breitenwang, the contrary is proved. The employees are the beneficiaries of the ‘worry-free package’ offered by the automatic control of the system of louvres and their integration into the ventilation and heating systems. Furthermore, the entire Brise Soleil-concept – from the planning and fabrication to the mounting of the louvres – was carried out by Reynaers Aluminium offering the convenience of one supplier for all services.
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