The valley station was designed as a sports equipment rental, bistro and reception building for the planned WaldLoft Hotel, a unique tree hotel that will be built on the Stöckerkopf in Baiersbronn in the coming years. The look of the valley station is heavily influenced by the scenic location between Sankenbach and the road. Driving in a southwest direction from Baiersbronn, the Sankenbachtal opens up and the valley station is situated on a lush meadow. As with a stone or a piece of driftwood, the surrounding area seems to have left its mark on the building. The building is wide open toward the south. A recessed mullion and transom facade has created space for a roofed terrace. The fully glazed window facade offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Sankenbach valley and will later include the WaldLoft Hotel which, at 770 metres, will be situated 220 metres higher.
The valley station currently serves two main functions: First of all, it is a starting point for Segway tours, hikes and walks, which is why a sports equipment rental service has been integrated into the building; secondly, it houses a bistro serving regional Black Forest cuisine. Although the sports equipment rental and restaurant are separated by the sanitary facilities and the valley station’s service centre, the spatial structure still flows well. The bicycle and Segway rental service is located in narrower section of the building on the right, and a small workshop has also been added to the rear. The dining area, which features an open counter, was accommodated in the larger section of the building on the left and will later serve as a reception area for the guests of the WaldLoft Hotel. All the building services and storage capacities were placed in the building’s attic, which reduced the excavation work to a minimum.
The ambience and interior of the Black Forest bistro are extremely modest, rustic and simple. The split-wood sliding shutters create an exciting play of light and shadow in the guest area. Since the plan only included smooth and hard surfaces, the team of architects also developed a special acoustic concept: A pattern of holes was cut into the three-layer spruce ceiling panels, floating like a cloud above the guest room. Behind the panels, a felted material absorbs the sound and reduces the reverb in the room.
The valley station is heated by an air source heat pump. It uses the outside air heated by the sun to heat the floor slab. All additional building services are located in the attic above the counter area. In summer, the large, south-facing eaves prevent the sun from penetrating deep into the building, which significantly reduces the energy input. In addition, cool air can flow in from the stream side and keeps the guest room from overheating by means of transverse ventilation. In winter, the reinforced concrete foundation slab is activated by the building components to heat the room. Used air can escape through the skylights in the post-transom facade. Again, the planned roof greening reduces negative heat transfer.
In terms of construction materials, the Cradle to Cradle-certified architecture firm focused on reducing its use of composite materials to a minimum in order to guarantee recyclable deconstruction or conversion. Starting from the top edge of the reinforced concrete floor slab, the majority of the raw materials used were renewable. The wood stud walls are covered from the outside with a soft wood fibre panel (GUTEX Thermowall) and filled with a wood fibre blow-in insulation (GUTEX Thermofiber). The valley station can therefore be described as an all-wood building. In addition, care was also taken to ensure that the raw materials were sourced from the local region as much as possible – for example, white fir trees from the municipal Baiersbronn forest were used for the formwork of the valley station.