Recognize and preserve what stands the test of time
At events at the Berneuchener House, you can reflect on what lends support and structure – opening up the possibility for developing new things. The new venue in the renovated barn of the former Kirchberg monastery in Sulz am Neckar is a symbol for this. The wooden framework and supporting structure were renovated or rebuilt in accordance with guidelines for the preservation of historic landmarks using clay-earth blocks. Newly added structural components were developed in this project to preserve what has stood the test of time.
Useful harmony – earth blocks and timber framework
You can spot the new conference building straight away: With the half-timbered facade typical of agricultural buildings, the former barn from 1824 stands out from the plaster-covered monastery buildings. Preservation of this exposed framework during renovation was a requirement of the historical landmark protection guidelines.
The ravages of time had particularly affected the west and south walls. Here the framework had to be extensively renewed while the rest of the walls could be repaired. The craftsmen used clay blocks and clay mortar for the infills.
The decision to utilise earthen clay by the planners at Kuner Architects was not only made in order to keep to landmark preservation guidelines. They also were counting on the advantages of a combination of building materials that has proven itself for centuries. The equilibrium moisture content of clay earth is lower than that of wood, causing moisture to be drawn out of wood when the two materials are used side-by-side, thereby protecting it.
The infill of both the surviving framework and the reconstructed sections was like assembling a puzzle: not a single full-size earthen-clay block could be used. Two-layer lime plaster was applied as weather protection. This, too, has always been a tried and tested combination.
The walls made of wood and clay already have good thermal insulation properties. In order to meet modern energy standards and to preserve the visible framework, a thermal insulation plaster was applied inside.
Inspirational balance – old structures and new spaces
Inside the new conference building, you will find the old wooden construction everywhere. The historic wooden columns with cross struts are almost sculptural in the newly created conference and meditation rooms.
A highlight is the new staircase, which was selected as staircase of the year for 2020 in the sculpture category by the German website Treppen.de. With its design, Kuner Architects underline the beauty of a visible and comprehensible structure. It resembles a woodpile through which the steps wind their way upward.
With the renovation and expansion of the Upper Barn, the Berneuchener house will have additional spaces for meetings and events. As an event participant, overnight guest at the Kirchberg Monastery, or visitor for the day, you will find the opportunity here to reflect on the essentials – the support – and to draw ideas for what is to come.Read more »
Ideal combination – half-timbered building and Claytec
For the new construction and the repair of the half-timbered walls, lightweight NF 1200 clay blocks were used. Claytec developed this earthen clay block 30 years ago for precisely this task. Wood and straw chaff make it lightweight, and the traditional form is easy to grip. In addition, the stone is easy to cut and knock into place.
Claytec lightweight clay masonry mortar was used to cement the blocks. This is similar to the clay blocks in terms of material composition and physical properties.
Wood construction and earth building materials complement each other perfectly. The clay protects the wood from excessive moisture and the resulting damage. There is no need for chemical wood treatment.
The clay block filled compartments were plastered with gräfix 61 lime base plaster following landmark protection guidelines. The yak hair added to this plaster brings a piece of Asia to the Swabian Alb. Gräfix lime thin layer plaster creates a fine-grain finish.