In southern Burgenland, Austria, a small A-frame house on a hill is the architectural equivalent of living the dream. Judith Benzer was commissioned by an almost-retirement-age couple to build a summer getaway where they could spend their golden years, while also pursuing their hobby of small-batch wine-making. The resulting residence is a modern take on the local vernacular–aboveground, a place for living, with a wine cellar and production area below.
As its unadorned geometry might suggest, the structure is a model of no-fuss efficiency. Panoramic windows frame the sprawling landscape, offering unobstructed views of neighboring farms and forests, but their size and locations were set to ensure that cool air remains inside when the heat rises outdoors. Exterior folding and flap shutters provide shade and welcome shadows across the patio, but when closed, fit completely flush against the building; the untreated larch wood cladding and terrace will “turn beautifully silver-grey” as time goes by, Benzer says, while the edges of the home’s simple silhouette will remain crisp thanks to folded sheets of copper that run along the corners.
Her firm designed the built-in fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as a special ventilation system in the basement to account for the gases associated with fermentation. When the seasons change the abode can close up completely, going into “hibernation” until it’s summertime again.