Text description provided by the architects. In May 2015 the visitor information center for the European Green Belt opened. Over an area of more than 1000 square meters in the premises in Windhaag near Freistadt, Upper Austria, the scientifically well founded exhibitions cover most impressively everything from nature and history to the future of the region. Concurrently, the Green Belt Center serves as information center, travel agency with offers for tourists but also as venue and sales shop with regional products. The forest house is about to become an integral part of the tourism in the region Mühlviertel and Danube-Moldau.
Having won a competition in 2013, the TWO IN A BOX – ARCHITEKTEN were commissioned by the constructor and operator of the Green Belt Center "Naturraum Grünes Band GmbH". Indisputable when using wood are the aspects of quality of life and sustainable construction. Smaller construction projects made from renewable wood require exceptionally intense studies of detail design. It doesn't always have to be only glass and concrete. The compatibility between individuality, design and ecology is reflected in the project Gateway to the European Green Belt - the Green Belt Center.
The new modern wooden building is laterally adjacent to an old building. All wooden ceilings are all made of solid wood. The partly towering framework walls were clad on the outside with a rough sawn silver fir façade. All interior wall surfaces in oriented strand boards are kept visible as a core-and-shell construction and all floors and stairs in the new building are made from a homogeneously running solid wood covering. A power-troweled monolithic reinforced concrete slab underscores the puristic usage of materials. The vertical shape of the new tower with a walkable roofscape and viewing platform symbolizes the future of Windhaag in the limelight of the entire region. The entire new vertical connection was accomplished in the new building. The exhibition tour is accompanied by the large voids of the tower that are merging with the already existing floors. A direct connection to the existing forest museum is given on the upper floor and on the attic in the shape of a glazed bridge offering repeatedly views of the surrounding nature. The void of the former staircase has been changed into a vertical exhibition zone on the ground floor presenting artistic installations by Gerhard Eilmsteiner.
The Green Belt Center opens up new approaches to nature, culture and especially to the people of the region and from far beyond the borders. The very special architecture underlines this project and combines traditional values with cross-border aspects. The former forest house "Mühlviertler Waldhaus" has come to new life after one year of construction as the modern and spacious "Green Belt Center".