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Andermatt Swiss Alps

A view behind the façade

Right now the scaffolding is being removed from the second new building in the resort – finally allowing an unobstructed view of the façades of the first two apartment houses Steinadler and Hirsch. But what you can see is just the outside skin of a complex wall assembly. “We are dealing with seven layers here”, explains Floriano Cuoco, project manager in charge of daily co-ordination of the construction works.

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It’s said that “clothes make the man” – and this applies not only to people. Our apartment houses too, with their attractive wood façades, are presented in best dress. This exterior facing of the buildings deserves some special attention. The buildings are clad in horizontal larch siding that has been pre-greyed. This means that the boards are treated with a glaze colour before they are installed. “The fresh wood is given a grey-green coating to look somewhat aged from the start. Exposed to the alpine weather, the wood continues to age naturally and ultimately attains an appearance similar to the glazed finish”, explains Cuoco. In this way the wood façade is well protected at all times and it requires hardly any maintenance, especially in the early years. The larch is from Swiss trees and the siding was installed by a local carpentry contractor.

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But let’s have a look behind the façade, at the layers beneath the horizontal wood siding: First comes a ventilation space. This ensures that the wood will not be damaged by moisture. It is simply led to the outdoors via the ventilation cavity. Layer number three is sort of a windbreaker for the building. This so-called air barrier stops the most ancient figure in Uri, der föhn (a warm dry wind descending the Alps), and prevents it from penetrating the building shell. The next layer is much more robust: a grid of wooden furring strips supporting yellow mineral wool and glass fibre panels. This thick layer of insulation panels holds the warmth inside the building.

The fifth layer is the structural core of the wall. It consists of 20 centimetres of grey concrete, forming a primary element of the structural system of the building.

The last two layers of the wall assembly, which totals 55 centimetres, are inside of the building. First, a layer of wood furring strips is installed on the concrete wall, and upon it the interior wall finish is attached. In many rooms, this is an attractive wood panelling of natural-finish larch, which lend the holiday apartments a certain touch of alpine flair. Because, as one says, clothes make the man – and the apartment house.

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Ventilated façade

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REAGc4p4aBs]

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