Küng Holzbau Headquarters: Nothing but Wood


Architects: Seilerlinhart
Location: Alpnach, Switzerland
Year: 2020
Photography: Rasmus Norlander

For about 10 years now, Stephan Küng, head of Küng Holzbau (Küng Timber Constructions) in its second generation, has put a lot of effort into solid wood construction. “Holzpur” (Pure Wood) is the name of the system that Küng has established on the market.

The basic elements of “Holzpur” are solid wall parts, about 20 cm thick, consisting of seven layers of boards. The boards themselves are made out of “moon wood”, which is usually cut around Christmas before the new moon, when there is almost no water left in the trees. This results in less shrinkage and a smaller risk of infestation with wood pests.

This is the company’s vision, and they find more and more customers don’t want a usual frame construction with boards and adhesives. They want nothing but wood, pure wood.

The company recently finished the building for its headquarters in a small industrial zone near Alpnach, where Küng Timber Construction has been rooted since its beginning. It not only solves a spatial problem, but also works as a demonstration object, business card and a 1:1 scaled billboard for this solid wood construction.

The building was designed by Seiler Linhart architects, an office situated in Lucerne and Sarnen, which has been working intensively with Küng since 2009.

Relation to the Traditions of Central Switzerland

The nearly square, four-story building offers space for 20 project leading engineers in individual offices and also holds meeting spaces, a cafeteria on the ground floor, and an exhibition space on the top floor, where interested customers can get to know the company’s products. On the outside, the building’s appearance is defined by its surrounding wooden ties and the overhanging balconies which are reminiscent of the traditional balconies of central Switzerland. They not only serve as an outside space, but also provide shadow, so that no other shading system is needed.

Type of Wood and Function

The hanging parts of the façade are made out of oak. The façade itself has been faced with roughly sawn spruce boarding. Boards with CNC-milled crescents cover the lintels of the façade openings: ornaments referring to the “moon wood”. The walls consist of two pure wood elements separated by a layer of wind paper, resulting in a wall construction that measures about 40 cm in total. The boards used for the insides of the walls are of low-quality wood that is usually processed into fiberboards. The ill-fitting aspect of these boards is an advantage, since the air trapped between the boards helps in terms of insulation.

A Hard Core as a Sculpture

The precision and attention to detail that Seiler Linhart Architects put into their work are astonishing. They reach as far as the sophisticated wooden furniture system, which allows for a variety of configurations and fits perfectly in every room.

The two-story entry hall is impressive, displaying a reception desk on the right and a meeting table on the left; through a wooden screen, the conference rooms on the first floor open up towards the hall. As you enter through the main door, the core of the building unexpectedly appears: a concrete structure that ties all the stories together, and which housed the staircases and elevator. The architects made a virtue of necessity by turning the non-wooden, stiffening core into a sculpture. A fireplace in the entry hall and another on the top floor accentuate the cozy feeling in the space, which is actually an administration building. But because of the use of solid wood and its sensorial appearance, it almost never appears as such.

Text by Hubertus Adam about the Küng Holzbau headquarters.