Knowing how thoroughly I’d enjoyed my visit to JPF-DUCRET with them, our friends at hsbcad suggested I tag along to a visit they were making to the leading maker of ecological, pre-fabricated homes in Germany, Baufritz. So yesterday Peter Schlipf (from our ADN team) and I headed across to the Baufritz office in Erkheim, about an hour’s drive west of Munich. On the way we met with colleague Krisztian Hegedus, who happens to live in a Baufritz home and was also keen to find out more about the company who’d built it. At Baufritz we were welcomed by Kris Riemslagh and Karel Vinckier from hsbcad and Helmut Holl and Alex Feierabend from Baufritz.
We sat down with them to talk about the company’s background. This was all in German, which was really excellent practice for me, but I know I didn’t understand everything that was said. I did I come away with some very interesting information, though: Baufritz has been building homes since 1896 and is a pioneer in two very interesting industry segments: ecological buildings and pre-fabrication. Baufritz uses AutoCAD Architecture and hsbcad to drive their manufacturing process – driving commercially available and homegrown machines that pre-fabricate building components at their factory before shipping them around Europe for assembly.
I wasn’t able to take photos during the factory tour – some of the techniques Baufritz uses are clearly trade secrets – but I can say that I’d never heard of anyone making the effort to demagnetize steel before using it in buildings before: that’s just one example of the Baufritz attention to ecological detail (I’ll mention some others, later on in this post). It was also really cool to see walls and rooves for high-end homes being pre-fabricated, complete with windows, tiles and guttering.
After the factory tour we headed over to the design office.
Baufritz take full advantage of AutoCAD Architecture and hsbcad in their design process, whether in 2D…
… or 3D.
After the design office we visited the exhibition space where prospective customers can learn more about Baufritz homes and start to make informed design decisions. One area I really liked was the sensorium dedicated to wood, one of the main building materials used in all Baufritz homes (another important one being glass… their homes are really beautiful).
It had a giant wooden pin-board where I was able to leave my mark.
It also had a room dedicated to appreciating nature while surrounded by natural wood.
In fact, throughout the exhibition space you could experience nature – charmingly covered in snow for our visit – while remaining cozy and warm.
Helmut is Managing Director of Baufritz but generously took the time to talk us though important ecological design factors – whether for the environment as a whole or the health and wellbeing of a building’s inhabitants.
For instance, he talked about the quality of different light sources, the ionization of the environment…
… as well as the steps Baufritz has taken to reduce or eliminate electromagnetic radiation using the right wall material and careful shielding of electrical wiring.
Baufritz started their emphasis on ecological building back in the late 1970s: the wife of then Managing Director Hubert Fritz became ill around that time, and the company became focused on creating healthy environments for the inhabitants of its homes. Something they’re proud to continue, to this day.
The exhibition space displays a number of different home styles to inspire people… my favourite was “Alpenchic”.
They also displayed some gorgeous fittings to match the architecture…
One of the areas I really liked allowed you to fully visualize your future bathroom. Thay have moveable walls – including the slope for a ceiling! – along with fixtures that could be moved into place to give you a real, tangible sense for your future environment. (I haven’t included a photo of this space, but here’s one of a nice sink unit that was on display elsewhere.)
Baufritz have gone to great lengths to help you imagine and (affordably!) build your dream home. It’s hard to come away not wanting to live in one of their creations, I have to say.
Thanks to Helmut, Alex, Karel and Kris for this wonderful opportunity. It was really a memorable visit.