The new headquarters of Kloboucká lesní, with its one thousand square meter footprint, embodies the guiding principles of sustainable design. Current environmental thinking, the untapped potential of an environmental approach to building construction, and further opportunities and challenges awaiting in our future, all manifest themselves in the new building.
Kloboucká lesní company is continuously paving the way towards sustainable forestry. Finding inspiration in the ways of our ancestors, but also exploring new technologies and possibilities. In a field that is not commonly associated with innovation or bravery, the company identifies as progressive and creative. And their new headquarters building will represent these values. With its various activities, the mission of Kloboucká lesní is to demonstrate the potential of sustainable construction – using a holistic environmental approach and cutting-edge technology.
Due to a major shift in the climatic conditions of our planet, the wood industry has been going through turbulent changes recently. Therefore, the new company headquarters has to be flexible and ready for future developments and change. We propose a place for creative work, research and innovation. The main load-bearing structure forms a modular shell for the building, leaving the interior space free and adjustable, including contingencies for unexpected growth.
The building design shows the way for future construction projects. Environmentally responsible, simple and modest, but equipped with cutting-edge technology – and placed in a natural setting surrounded with vegetation and water. The load-bearing structure is made exclusively from timber, a material which is produced on site, in the Kloboucká lesní production hall located only a hundred meters away. Wood is the oldest and the simplest of materials, but the production process is very modern. As a flagship product of the company portfolio, glued laminated timber was used for the building frame. Repeated many times, the traditionally shaped frame forms an elongated and elegant volume.
A prominent location was chosen for the headquarters inside the factory compound.
The north-facing façade is oriented towards the town and the visitors' entrance. The volume of the building conceals other industrial halls of the compound, while a beautiful backdrop of the Pláňavský ridge can be seen in the distance.
The building is a combination of contemporary technical solutions and common sense. The load-bearing structure uses a glued laminated timber frame, a concrete core and steel bracing. There are several types of façade cladding, filling each span of the frame according to the interior spatial and programmatic organisation. The modular structure provides a great variability of use, even in case of future changes of function. The wooden structure is made predominantly from glued laminated timber manufactured only about a hundred meters from the site. This timber comes predominantly from the surrounding forests. Both colour and grain of the wood were considered when picking the best lumber, and therefore the best forest for felling.
The building’s PV array produces enough energy to meet its requirements. In fact, the majority of all electronic equipment in the compound is using solar power at the moment. The headquarters’ solar panels also double as roofing material. Glass panels cover the northern part of the roof to let more light into the attic space.
Rainwater roof runoff is stored in open ponds and used for irrigation and for cooling during the summer months. By reflecting the diffused daylight, the water surface also helps bringing light deeper into the building.
The source for heating of the building and the whole area is the central boiler house, where the main fuel is wood chips of own production. This makes the site completely independent of any other fuel source. The added value is that it is a completely ecological source.
Due to the government subsidy policy and the recently adopted technical standards, certain environmental consciousness has become an inextricable part of the architectural profession. However, few clients actually care about the underlying environmental issues and not just their economic and regulatory imprints. Building materials manufacturers squabble over who has the cleanest product, the most environmentally friendly production process, or who’s product or material will save you the most money. The building codes will basically prohibit an uninsulated building as harmful to the environment. So we wrap everything up. New-built projects and historic buildings alike are disappearing under thick layers of insulation. Government funding may be helping the construction business, but simultaneously it’s aggravating the overall situation.
Truly environmentally conscious building is far more complex than it seems. It doesn’t matter whether we wrap a house in styrofoam. What makes a building sustainable isn’t the thermal insulation standards, but rather where we built it and how we use it. It’s important to appreciate that there really are issues beyond just direct energy requirements. There is a whole set of actions and energy inputs generated during the manufacturing and transport of the individual building parts, then the question of the proper use of the building during its life-span, and last but not least, there needs to be a thorough consideration of what happens at the end of this life-span.
This sort of thinking comes naturally for Kloboucká lesní. Having control over the whole process, guarding quality, supervising each production phase, considering not just profitability but primarily sustainability... This is not just about the processing and selling of wood, this is a complex pursuit. Let’s call it forest care. At the beginning there is a seed, at the end a house. The system cannot be separated into individual parts, the parts can’t exist on their own.
Imagine a world where the building materials for your house don’t travel half the way across the globe. Where you know the forest, where the timber for your house came from. The new Kloboucká lesní headquarters is not just a progressive company offices, it’s a laboratory. It studies faster ways of constructing buildings and better ways of working with energy and materials to minimize their environmental impact during their manufacturing, use and disposal at the end of their life cycle. Not a drop of water is wasted, nor a joule of energy lost. Experience is turned into development.
Two thousand wood houses are built in the Czech Republic per year, which equals up only about 0,5% of the total lumber production in the country. This is a negligible amount. Our mission is to increase this number, to tap the potential that’s being offered to us, to make buildings sustainable not just in terms of low heating costs. Considering the current wood-based construction - we want to take a step back, look at the big picture, understand the principles and connections, and then reassemble the process with a new perspective.
Learning about processes that follow after wood production and manufacturing is considered essential for the future development of the Kloboucká lesní company. The firm’s current slogan describes working with wood as a process starting with the planting of the seed and ending with a planed board. This is the extent of the firm’s activities. But our experience with the laboratory helped us to set our sights a bit further. We see new opportunity and new development potential in the sustainable, frugal and socially responsible philosophy. Today, when the construction industry is paralyzed by excessive bureaucracy, staffing and material shortages, is the right time to start over. Sustainably, efficiently, economically. Let’s put our experience to good use, let’s build houses like that!
P.S.: We thank not only Vojta Dorňák and Kloboucká lesní for the boundless trust they gave us in the project, but also BoysPlayNice, who played an equally important role as dating mediators in the beginning. We are very happy that this connection worked out and a progressive house was created that goes far beyond the borders of Wallachia. We look forward to more such projects!
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