Bivouac For Urban Nomads

architects Holz Box Tirol
projects Minibox, Innsbruck, Austria
written by Otto Kapfinger


Their office is a roof extension in downtown Innsbruck: the utmost use of space with prefab elements and a minimum of lost pathways under a straitjacketing step roof form that could not be changed. Extreme values of economy are achieved in the toilet cell and in the Minibox fixed to the elevator annex as a meeting room. In view of the 60 cm of width given to the WC, practically and laconically mastered down to the last detail, it becomes clear to any visitor that these architects are different from indigenous Tirolians. Erich Strolz and Armin Kathan were bred on the Vorarlberg side of the Arlberg mountain. Strolz originates in the Hochtannberg Pass at Warth; his first building, in 1992, was the staff quarters for the Adler Hotel in Hochkrumbach situated at a height of 1600 m where the winters last for up to eight months a year, where meters-high snowdrifts and horizontally gusting snow and rain are part of everyday life. Loveliness or expressiveness imparted to constructions are out of place here, unlike robustness, extreme compactness of volume, and perfect interior economy. Armin Kathan comes from Lech at a height of 1500 m, also built by the Walsers (the population of which, coming from Switzerland’s Waliss in the 14th century, settled down in Vorarlberg) whose rigid mentality is still perceptible in a commercial respect. Kathan´s inaugural building was an extension for the Rote Wand Hotel in Lech-Zug in 1989.