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A hotel made entirely of wood

30-May-2019

The Tirol Lodgne on the Wilder Kaiser in Austria.

The facade of the Tirol Logde is completely made of wood. Photo: Tirol Lodge Ellmau

Direct access to the ski slopes, panoramic views of the mountains from the sauna and an outdoor pool that’s heated all year round: that’s just a taste of what the Tirol Lodge in Ellmau on the Wilder Kaiser ridge has to offer. Yet the one-stop-shop hotel with its 171 rooms is not a giant box, but rather a complete chalet village – divided into three groups of four buildings. And what’s more, it was constructed entirely of wood in a modular design. It took the administration building of timber construction company Egger in the nearby town of St. Johann as its inspiration.

In hiring Tyrolean architect Bruno Moser, the developers also benefited from the expertise of the very same builder who was responsible for the hotel’s inspiration. And he was ideally placed to appreciate the challenges of such a project: wood is always moving. That’s one consideration that can be problematic, particularly in bathrooms, where movement can result in silicone seals being pulled apart, leaking and causing water damage to the wood.

Reliable protection against moisture for wooden bathrooms

Shower surface with frame.

For the frame, the shower surface is folded from the factory side wall, so that glazed titanium steel forms the groove to the wall. Photo: Holzbau Saurer / fotostudiorene

“That’s why it was immensely important to us that we use a very reliable method of moisture protection in such an extensive wooden construction project. The wet area of the bathrooms in particular must be well sealed,” states Bruno Moser knowledgeably. “There are two popular trends in Austria at the moment: prefabrication and timber construction. Bette is particularly in demand in this area, as the company offers custom solutions that are well suited to wooden buildings,” says the architect, explaining the collaboration with the bathrooms specialists from Delbrück, Germany.

From the outset, tiles and joints in the shower area of the bathrooms were ruled out. “Joints are always difficult, even in a structure built from solid materials. But they’re especially risky when it comes to wood,” sums up Moser. To play it safe with regard to the showers in the wooden bathrooms, the firm of architects opted for a floor-level shower tray from Bette. To create the frame, the shower tray is manufactured with its wall side curving upwards and the concave moulding made of glazed titanium steel. The waterproof wall panelling is then glued to the upper half of the frame. As a result, there are no silicone joints to the wall and the structural design protects the wood against moisture penetration.

But the shower trays are not only sealed on the wall side by the upturned frame. Thanks to the sealing kit used for wooden floors, a secure, leakproof connection to the wooden floor is also possible. For this purpose, a waterproof panel is inserted into the floor below the shower tray, with the edges of the panel being additionally sealed with waterproofing compound and sealing fleece.

Rapid cleaning with little effort

Moisture protection for wooden bathrooms

Safe and constructive moisture protection is required in the bathrooms. Photo: Tirol Logde Ellmau

Another advantage of the floor-level shower trays is the material they’re made from, which comes with a 30-year guarantee from Bette. Glazed titanium steel is robust and stain-resistant, as well as being quick and easy to clean. The frame-based solution also means that the regular costs of maintaining the silicone joints between the wall and the shower tray are a thing of the past. In addition, the slope needed to allow water to drain away is already integrated into Bette’s shower trays, whereas it would’ve had to be incorporated into the tiling first, had shower drainage channels been used.

For Bruno Moser, there was never any question of using shower drainage channels in the Tirol Lodge. “As well as the hygiene factor, the long-term watertightness of shower channels is highly problematic. Also, the flooring under the shower channel would’ve had to be cast in place, which would in turn have required drying time in a procedure that is not usual in timber construction,” says the architect, explaining his choice.

Wooden constructions don’t have to be noisy

Sound travels particularly well in wooden buildings, and cascading showers can be loud. The subject of sound insulation is therefore of great importance, especially in hotel and in wooden buildings in particular. After all, no guest wants to hear the person in the room next door showering at three in the morning after an après-ski party. “Our BetteFloor Side shower trays are fitted as standard with sound-dampening mats made of bitumen, which are glued to the underside of each shower tray. This minimises the transmission of sound to the wooden structure,” explains Sven Rensinghoff, Head of Marketing at Bette. Bette’s showers with upturned frames are also always delivered with sealing tape , which isolates them and blocks the transmission of sound into the wall.

Work can be done more economically in a factory

The room modules later become hotel rooms.

In workshops, the later rooms were prefabricated from individual room modules. Photo: Holzbau Saurer / fotostudiorene

The future rooms for the new hotel building were created in the workshops of the contractors Holzbau Saurer from individual room modules, each measuring 30 square metres. The modules then only had to be positioned in their final location, as they were delivered fully fitted to the construction site. The high degree of prefabrication of the modular wooden construction and the precise coordination of the logistics concept resulted in a number of advantages for the firm of architects and the timber construction company – in particular, the construction time of just under ten months was extremely fast-paced for a project of this size.

“Groundworks began in early March 2018, and the Tirol Lodge was already open by mid-December. By constructing the wooden modules in the shelter of workshops, there are no short-term project delays due to bad weather, and the modules are all built to the same quality,” says Bruno Moser, summarising further advantages of modular prefabrication.

“Building with wood is climate friendly and sustainable,” adds Rensinghoff. “And there are tried-and-tested solutions for bathrooms that take account of the special characteristics of the material and ensure watertightness, sound insulation and hygiene. We’re delighted that the Tirol Lodge put its faith in Bette’s expertise in this delicate area.”

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