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Hardly any straight walls, the most varied angles: just that alone already posed a challenge. But the most intricate was certainly the roof substructure. A total of hundreds of components, hardly one matching another.“ Stefan Heigl remembers the time well when he and his company, Heigl Holzbau GmbH played a critical role in erecting the Haus der Wildnis as a visitor's centre for the UNESCO world natural heritage site “Wildnis Dürrenstein-Lassingtal” wilderness area. This was between 2019 and 2021, with a hiatus in 2020 due to lockdown. The Haus der Wildnis is located right next to the church in Lunz am See. Stefan Heigl's company, wood construction, carpentry and sawmill, is located only two kilometres from the Haus der Wildnis. Heigl started the business 20 years ago as a sole trader, and today his company employs 20 people and is successfully involved in commercial, urban and private wood construction. 

For the Haus der Wildnis, Heigl was responsible for the entire timber structure including the substructure of the roof. The structure was designed by architects of “Architekten Maurer & Partner ZT GmbH” with offices in Vienna, Hollabrunn and Korneuburg. Holzbau Strigl GmbH, located in Lunz am See provided the interior fittings and façades. All companies involved were invited to provide part of the services at no cost as a sponsoring contribution by the project sponsor “Weltnaturerbezentrum Haus der Wildnis Grundstücksverwaltungs Gesellschaft mbH” property management company, consisting of the State of Lower Austria, the Market Town of Lunz and the NÖ Versicherung AG insurance company. “In our case, this was the entire planning of the semi-finished parts of the timber frame and the substructure of the roof”, Heigl explains.

The semi-finished wood components are assembled on the company premises and taken to the construction site in transportable sizes, there to be quickly and efficiently fitted together. For this, says Heigl, he used the proven SHERPA system connectors. The performance of the system regarding static bearing strength was crucial for this application. In addition, the use of SHERPA wood connectors enabled the main carriers and sub-carriers to be laid on one level due to the optimised load application at the connections. This resulted in a reduction of the structural height of the ceiling structure. Thus, more room height was gained with the same overall structural height. And Stefan Heigl points out yet another positive feature of the connector: “By the insertion of the dovetail-shaped spring element into the groove element of the connector, the individual components are securely in position early in the assembly process. This facilitates as smooth connection of the structural parts even at very low tolerances from the blank.”

As a creative timber wale construction, the “Haus der Wildnis” in Lunz am See is sustainable in two regards. As a UNESCO world nature heritage centre, it brings it visitors closer to the limited accessibility wilderness area of Dürrenstein-Lassingtal, the greatest remaining area of “primeval forest” in the Alpine region as a museum, event centre and restaurant. A unique natural monument in our region, that has alluded cultivation for centuries due to its exposed location and difficult accessibility. In 1875, the area was first protected by its then owner, Albert Rothschild. In 2017 it was awarded the status of a UNESCO world nature heritage site. Is it not only a unique nature reserve, but under the conditions of advancing climate change, today also a kind of laboratory for the development of the alpine forest landscape. The “Haus der Wildnis” is, however, also proof of the sustainability of building in wood. Wood from domestic forests is a renewable raw material travelling only a short distance. It represents climate-friendly and regional added value and jobs, especially in rural regions affected by migration. Wood offers its users reliability over decades, if not centuries. Wood frame construction, which plays an important role in the revitalization of wood as a construction material, guarantees not only efficiency in construction in conjunction with intelligent plywood and wooden connector systems such as those in the SHERPA Product groups, but also enables opportunity for creative design.

The “Haus der Wildnis” was consciously also orchestrated as an architectonic symbol by its designers, the architects of “Architekten Maurer & Partner ZT GmbH”: “The positioning in the centre of town and next to the church requires a harmonious use of local materials such as wood and stone. They made sure that the building could also be seen from above as a prominent element. From an architectonic point of view, it is also an eye-catcher with the layered roof construction. Five asymmetrical cubes are woven together in the longitudinal direction and shape the interior like fallen tree trunks.”Because the modern timber structure was set on the foundations of an incomplete hotel project, and thus transformed a long-standing abandoned construction project in a sensitive area into a showcase that completes the image of sustainability of this timber structure, which has already been used by many thousands of visitors since its completion and opening in 2021.

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