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New Directions: The Architects

Updated on 14.07.2021 in People, Photos: Verena Kathrein

Looking ahead: Innsbruck-based architects Christian Hammerl (left) and Elias Walch (right) know exactly what constitutes contemporary, beautiful architecture.
Looking ahead: Innsbruck-based architects Christian Hammerl (left) and Elias Walch (right) know exactly what constitutes contemporary, beautiful architecture.

When it comes to Tirol’s contemporary architecture landscape, Innsbruck-based Christian Hammerl and Elias Walch are at the forefront, creating spaces and designs that age with grace, relying on a style that is rooted in tradition but with contemporary elements in all the right places.

“We have known each other since school. A few years ago, we started our own business ‘he und du’. The corona crisis has actually been quite beneficial for us: Private clients are placing more and more importance on high-quality living, which naturally fits in well with our role as architects. However, the planning and implementation process for these types of projects is complex and costly. Life in Tirol is already quite expensive – there’s limited space, and building costs are rising. Fewer and fewer people can afford big apartments here, but at the same time, we’re seeing an increasing number of buildings being constructed within a very short time frame: This production speed contributes to many things being lost which were once essential. After all, quality is connected to an extent with sustainability and long-term thinking. Both of these elements are important to us. Designing a building which you can use for many years, saves resources. Therefore, when it comes to conversions, our goal is to maintain as much of the existing building as possible.

Welcome to He & Du’s architecture studio.
Welcome to He & Du’s architecture studio.

Sketches: When visiting the office of ‘he und du’, you’ll catch sight of many plans and blueprints.
Sketches: When visiting the office of ‘he und du’, you’ll catch sight of many plans and blueprints.

To create a modern homeliness, they combine the sincerity of the materials with contemporary elements.
To create a modern homeliness, they combine the sincerity of the materials with contemporary elements.

Looking Ahead

This article is part of the “Looking Ahead” series, which dives into the minds of individuals who have dared to step into the future, their story, and their views on Tirol.

We unite tradition with innovation. These days, many people are unaware of what ‘real’ Tirolean architecture looks like. Typically, the building’s lower part would be solid with a plastered façade, while the top part usually consists of wood (larch or spruce), and a living room that’s often made with Swiss pine. Wood reflects the past and has so many stories to tell – just like us humans and our wrinkles that are testament to everything we’ve been through. Picture a young couple with smooth, unblemished skin, but as they grow older together and admire each other’s wrinkles, they are reminded of everything they’ve accomplished in life. That’s exactly how architecture should be.

Many persons don’t even know what the ‘real’ Tirolean construction style looks like.

To create a modern sense of home, we weave contemporary elements in amongst the authenticity of our selected materials. A no-go in our work? Kitschy carvings in the wooden beams.

Taster: Christian and Elias are dedicated to uniting modern architecture with tradition.
Taster: Christian and Elias are dedicated to uniting modern architecture with tradition.

In the past few months, we’ve taken the time to explore our surroundings. Usually, we’d hop on a plane and spend our holidays in some far-flung destination instead of enjoying the beautiful spots close by, but Tirol has so much to offer, and we have discovered so many new things. Clearly, high-speed internet in Tirol’s cable cars isn’t the reason that tourist flock here – it’s also because of the amazing scenery. It will be wonderful to take this awareness with us into the future – not as a way to simply strive for higher revenues and sales, but with more of a focus on being content with what we have and making the most of it.”

Christian and Elias enjoy their work.
Christian and Elias enjoy their work.

Christian Hammerl & Elias Walch

Architects Christian and Elias, both born in 1985, have known each other since school. After studying architecture in Innsbruck, their paths split to gain valuable work experience in different architecture studios, but in 2017 they decided to launch their own business ‘he und du’ (literal translation: ‘he and you’). The ‘h’ in ‘he’ stands for the initial of Christian Hammerl’s nickname Hampi and the ‘e’ stands for Elias. Christian Hammerl (right) and Elias Walch (left) rely on natural materials and the preservation of heritage – if you are looking for kitsch, look elsewhere.

Maximilian Gerl lives in Munich, Germany. Each and every year he resolves to finally spend more time in the mountains. He attended the German School of Journalism and currently is working as a freelance journalist.

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