A Look Back to the Construction Process
The general overhaul of Hochstrass was a major undertaking which involved many diligent hands. The review of the construction process from October 2015 back to the beginning of the conversion in the summer of 2014 shows what these hands accomplished.
The autumn sun casts its mild light on the practically completed work. The wooden floors and the carpet floors have been laid, the doors work perfectly with the key cards and the pavers have done an artful job in front of the house. Just like the gardeners, who have rolled out a green grass carpet and set out everything that can still be planted in the autumn. The guests and the winter may now come!
The entrance lobby with the foyer and reception area in front of the former main gate of the convent is swiftly taking shape. With its numerous steel beams, the construction still looks quite massive, but a sense of lightness soon comes into play with the furnishing. In the basement, the mighty table stove from the “K. u. K. privilegierten Öfen- und Maschinenfabrik Josef Viktorin aus Wien IV” (“Imperial and Royal Imperial Privileged Oven and Machine Factory Josef Viktorin from Vienna’s Sixth District”), with its three ovens and various hot plates, has meanwhile taken up its traditional place again – after an expert general overhaul it looks more beautiful than ever.
Just after the painters had finished their work, the metal and glass fitters turned up in Hochstrass to put the finishing touches on the addition for the new entrance of Refugium Hochstrass. On the slope side behind the house, work is also being done on the winter garden. As beautiful as the high summer days also were, it is nonetheless good that the intense heat in mid-August abated. With temperatures at the 40 degree Celsius mark (and sometimes even above), working has been very arduous.
We have already long been looking forward to the completion of the façade. And we must say: It really isn’t difficult to get used to the literally “new” view without scaffolding and building protection screens. The room fit out is proceeding behind the freshly whitewashed façade – and it goes hand in hand with the fitting of the bathrooms. Wherever they still exist, we are helping the old, wooden plank floors in the guest rooms acquire a new shine or are laying new, modern wood floors where screed, tiles or plastic flooring already were.
So that we, according to a common expression, “don’t merely get bored,” we opened further construction sites: The Old Forge first gets a new roof truss and then a fresh roof covering. The adjacent shed is likewise undergoing a general overhaul by the carpenters. Our biomass heating plant is also taking shape. The foundations are already cemented, and the impressive dimensions of the building clearly stand out already.
May did not make everything new again, as the German lyrics to the beloved spring song go, but a lot happened nonetheless.
The floor heating has been completely laid in the old dining room and in the chapel and has once again vanished under the floor construction. Moreover, the chapel is completely painted, as are the hallways, where electricians and plumbers laid kilometers of wiring and tubing under the roof. Expertly fitted, the large rooftop windows already afford a fallproof panoramic view in the seminar rooms.
Although we are quite well-versed in reading plans, everyday building site reality still provides us with aha moments: The entrance hall into the main house is going to be so big (like the bed plate in the middle of the image)! What’s more, the five coquettish makeup stripes on the façade (“Which white tones shall we choose for the make-up?”), plus the new windows, faithfully recreated from the old originals. And the clock, which now finally gives the tower an expressive face.
Spring has sprung. The carpenters have returned to the building site and begun with the formwork construction on the slope side of the convent roof, which is several hundred meters in size. The dimensions and the partitioning of the seminar rooms are already discernable on the top floor.
Vis-à-vis, on the roof of the Old Cheese Dairy, which will serve as the new office and administration building from Autumn 2015 onwards, the carpenters also have a lot to do – here a cold roof is to be prepared for the roofers and tinsmiths. Roof dormer windows will be fitted on the convent roof by the end of March; the comprehensive replacement of all windows continues in the right wing of the building. Heavy machinery is once again in demand: The construction of the new heating house begins on the site of the large barn not far from the convent. Completion of the shell construction is already expected at the end of April.
The mild winter benefits the construction work. In the left wing of the house all windows are replaced within a few days. The new windows with modern insulation will do their part to utilize energy on Hochstrass even more economically and sustainably in the future. In the former cowshed – the future outbuilding – extensive demolition work begins. At the same time, the builders proceed there with the renovation and reinforcement of the floors for the later operation with a tractor.
The utility rooms in the basement are successively being completed: a large part of the electrical installations is finished. The drywall construction team is working its way higher and higher under the roof.
Construction work has been shifted into the inside of the house. The roof half facing the courtyard is newly clad with sheet metal and completely tiled. On the ground floor and on the upper floors the workers are laying screed to provide a solid base for the floor construction.
After the completed roof construction, the carpenters turn to overhauling the roof on the slope side, while the roofers move on to the cowsheds and will continue working there. The convent roof is now impermeable and winterized; the drywall construction below it is running at full blast.
The house utilities are taking shape with the fitting of the first sanitary facilities and ventilation. In the basement and along the outside foundation the extensive drainage work is in progress; the foundations are insulated with foam. The construction technicians concrete the bedplate for the winter garden. The carpenters board the tower façade with fresh larch wood and the tower roof, like the whole roof facing the courtyard, presents itself in fresh green color, resp., in zinc cladding.
On the courtyard side the carpenters complete the new construction of the roof. Cellulose is blown into the ceiling surfaces as insulation. Drywall work begins on the top floor. At the same time the electricians start with the first installations.
After the major land reallocation outside, man and machine continue working inside. Demolition and earthworks commence in the convent. Several old interior walls vanish; digging is the order of the day on the ground floor and in the basement to enable the floors to be reconstructed and properly insulated.
Off we go! The first construction workers arrive at Hochstrass to prepare the building site. The project and construction management office finds space in a container construction next to the Old Cheese Dairy.
Before work in the convent begins, ballast is to be gotten rid of and room is to be created all around. We particularly part with the less elegant architectonic witnesses of Hochstrass’ more recent past: the filling station, the multi-purpose hall, the pigsty, as well as the grange and the cowshed addition. The barn near the farm, the Grundböck house, as well as the subsequently built additions to the convent, are also torn down.