“We are working a lot with wood. Austria has a thriving wood culture. My Dad was a carpenter and I grew up with the material. Currently we are working on several small wood buildings and two towers in Cross Laminated Timber. Wood is an incredible material that regrows. People who live in wood buildings have a measurably lower heart rate. I think it is in our DNA that we need to be surrounded by something natural. Our brains are wired to be close to nature. We need fresh air, green grass and clean water. But far too often our cities and buildings are not providing that. Building with wood is as close as it gets to introduce nature back into our buildings.”
What buildings does Precht have opening soon? Are they sustainable / green?
“Personally our most important project was recently our own studio in the mountains. We now have enough space for thinking, creating and making. With an inspiring view. From this remote place we work on global projects. Currently we have projects in Europe, Canada, Israel, India and China. Some of them very small ones, some of them a bit larger. But we try to ration our workload and have a healthy work-life balance. The best part of working in the mountains is living in the mountains. When the weather is good, we do a lot of hiking, climbing and skiing. But when the weather is not good, we get some time to do architecture!”
“Nature is the best architect and nature developed the best designs. As an architect I constantly try to come close… but we [as humans] always fall short compared to nature. I try to build with natural materials that have a low carbon footprint, develop systems that are pre-fabricatable, so the construction phase can be short and has a low impact on its surroundings. And I like to connect people to nature and introduce plants as a design element.”
“We live and work in the mountains of Austria. We grow our own food, have chickens for eggs and try in general to be as self-sufficient as possible. Although architecture is for the public, your projects are still very personal. As an architect you are inspired by your environment and shaped by the community you grew up in.”
What else shaped your way of architecture?
“Hands down my Dad. It really is true that the stories of your father become your own. My Dad was a famous free climber. The more I go to the mountains, the more I see similarities of his purpose and my purpose as an architect. The mountains offer you a change of perspective. Visually but more importantly mentally. You feel like an insignificant ape that is surrounded by millions of years. Surrounded by a larger story. And far too often we forget that there is something more than our consumerism and our thrive for an economic growth. Architecture can offer a similar perspective. It is a long-lasting craft that can give us a glimpse of history, culture and tradition. And far too often we forget that there is more than rising real estate prices, styles and trends.”