Across Europe, there are many post-war buildings which with appropriate measures, can be converted to new housing stock and also provide more sustainable housing solutions. An example of this is the renovation of a 1960s-apartment block in Kapfenberg, in the Austrian state of Styria.
The existing block has been renovated to improve energy efficiency, but also to enhance the quality of the living environment. Current residential building standards were met by making changes to room layout, enlarging living space and improving the use of natural light. An interdisciplinary team made up of architects, specialist consultants, businesses and university research programmes were involved in the development and realisation of the project.
One of the main objectives of the project was to drastically reduce energy consumption using the latest technologies: 80% reduction in heating requirements, 80% reduction in CO2 and achieve an 80% ratio of renewable energy sources.
The new concept is embodied in a replacement facade, a new roof with solar modules and a distinctive sail-shaped solar-panel wall. A newly developed prefabricated façade insulates the building, enabling all the building service ducts to be routed behind the outer shell. Additionally, the full-height elements can be manufactured with pre-assembled windows and doors saving on-site construction time. Heating is supplied to the building by the solar modules. The energy produced feeds a stratified thermal storage tank, which is then directed through a supply system that tops up storage units to each apartment.
Improved housing quality
Improvement to the quality of the living environment was another central aim of the renovation. By attaching an outer loggia to the east-facing elevation of the building, the layout of the apartments could be improved. The apartments, which were previously too small and received natural light from only one side, have been converted to generously proportioned units, with an east-west orientation. In doing so, the main emphases were on orientation, cross-ventilation, enlargement of living space and the addition of an outside balcony to every apartment. All the apartments are flexibly designed to be suitable for disabled occupants and wheelchair users.
Hot dip galvanized steel has contributed to improving the quality of the living environment. The steel construction of the outer loggia including the screen, the built-on balconies and the distinctive solar canopy and solar sail, were all constructed with hot dip galvanized steel.
The project achieved a gold standard from klimaativ; the climate protection initiative of the Austrian Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management. This is the first renovation of a residential building to qualify as a PlusEnergy renovation in Austria.