We are in the middle of an impressive natural scenery at the Wolfgangsee. Climate and environmental protection have top priority. We advocate sustainable tourism development and want to show through new spatial concepts how land consumption can be reduced and modern tourism can function.

Ecological aspects and sustainability

There it stands, the Balthasar Volcano. But not on his two legs. A foam glass panel forms its foundation. This is one of several structural-ecological features that Balthasar Volcano in St. Wolfgang has to offer. With another, he even makes it to the showcase project in home construction.

But before that, let’s talk about his name. This was given to him by builder Anna and builder Max. A fusion of his first name and her grandfather’s last name. This is how the name and character were created around the unique vacation apartments, which welcomed their guests for the first time in St. Wolfgang in September 2021. Balthasar Volcano is special in several respects.

Each of its four premium vacation apartments, all in the midst of the wonderful nature of Upper Austria with a view of Lake Wolfgang, reflects a characteristic of the Balthasar Volcano. Modern interior, domestic natural materials of the highest quality and the individual design, provide an unforgettable living experience at the highest level. The wooden house, built in 2021, but is most impressive for its ecological construction. A main focus of Anna Winkler and Maximilian Eisl.

The building should be sustainable and environmentally friendly. “Inspired by Nature and Design” is how its advertising claim aptly sums up the message.

It started with the foundation of the cross-laminated timber building, which they had already been advised against several times for cost reasons. In the end, however, it proved more cost-effective and far more environmentally friendly to dispense with the familiar strip foundation for the floor slab and to break new ground with the compacted foam glass made from recycled glass. Incentive for the developer couple, which justified the research work and perseverance. The uniqueness of the project comes mainly from the external insulation. Developed by timber construction pioneer Günther Kain from Bad Goisern, Balthasar Volcano is the first building to use larch bark insulation, a purely natural product, as its outer shell.

With the same function as conventional facade insulation, it protects Balthasar Volcano from the cold and keeps the heat out. The Salzburg-based start-up Barkinsulation presses pieces of larch bark into solid 8-cm-thick panels, which are then doubled up and used as an external façade – equipped with several sensors. Thus, Balthasar Volcano also becomes a highly regarded research object of the FH Salzburg. After all, it’s not just Anna and Max who want to know how the novel insulating material performs on their vacation homes. Behavioral observations and measurements by the UAS will provide information about what developmental studies and experiments in the laboratory have promised so far. An outstanding insulating performance of a pure natural product.

In any case, you should meet Balthasar Volcano in person. Be it because of its home-generated electricity via photovoltaics, the green roofs or the relaxation in the wooden tub on its own terrace, not to mention its nutrition seminars in the modern show kitchen. Ecological sustainability does not end with the building material.

(Text: ©Christoph Malzer)