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Lakeside café, Kressbronn

Small is beautiful

It may be small, but the architect has incorporated clear details and refreshing ideas into this café-pavilion on Lake Constance. Its wide all-round glazing and slender anthracite-coloured window profiles help the pavilion nestle into its surroundings, the “Seegarten”. It is extremely popular with visitors: after just four weeks another 20 tables had to be ordered for the outside area.
Benchmark data: Café im Seegarten
Object: New building
Owner: municipality of Kressbronn, Baden-Württemberg
Landscape-planning competition: 1st prize to Planstatt Senner, Überlingen
Architect: Thomas Stoppel (engineer), Nonnenhorn
Completion: Ascension Day 2009
Windows: Finstral lift-and-slide door façade in PVC-aluminium
The Café im Seegarten is right next to the Kressbronn landing for the Konstanz-Bregenz ferry service. It is part of the upgrading of the lakeshore that formerly served as an export harbour and was the location for the popular Hotel Schiff. The open spaces were rearranged, the lake drive improved and the café was built. The people of Kressbronn were involved in the planning of the new lakeside garden. It became clear that there was a desire for a catering establishment and thus plans were developed for the café, with an unobtrusive, light and transparent structure that interferes as little as possible with the landscape. Local architect Thomas Stoppel was commissioned to draw up the plans.
A remarkable feature: everything is made of glass
The building has all-round glazing, including in the kitchen and WC areas, where satinised glass was used for visual protection. The café has a surface area of 21 x 9 metres and is divided up according to function. The 85 m² area for guests is particularly striking, with its large sliding door openings and slatted sun blind s. There is a separate side entrance to the public toilets in the basement and the WC for disabled people on the ground floor. As the large window surfaces require effective shading and ornithologists feared that birds might fly into them, the architect designed sliding elements of L-shaped steel frames with horizontal slats of oiled thermal beech, which from the inside offer practically unimpeded views of Lake Constance. These elements provide shade for up to 80% of the façade (the doors represent the remainder), but run on two planes so that one can be “parked” behind the other to permit an open façade. Despite the exposed situation on the lake, its stable construction means that the solar protection can remain in place even in stormy weather.
Narrow profiles, large glass areas, invisible frames
The 60-metre long surrounding window wall consists of up to 2.50 x 2.50 m KAB  lift-and-slide door elements of PVC-aluminium from the South Tyrol manufacturer Finstral. The stairway and kitchen had fixed glass surfaces with tilting skylights installed. The architect, Thomas Stoppel, selected the KAB  system because the 50-mm window profiles are especially slender. He also states: “Finstral offers the only profile with which you can obtain a mullion-transom effect, into which the lift-and-slide doors can be (invisibly) integrated without additional profiles”. The combination of PVC profiles with aluminium cladding is also very economical.

The two materials allow both sides to develop their individual expression. The aluminium cladding was powder-coated with an anthracite tone so as not to detract from the surrounding greenery. The excellent self-cleaning effect of the surface helps prevent discoloration due to mosquitoes. For reasons of ease of maintenance and resistance to dirt, a grained PVC surface was likewise selected for the interiors. The white colour (azure white) also reflected the light, thus ensuring a bright interior even with closed sliding shutters. The aluminium cladding is clipped onto the heat-insulating PVC frames, thus preventing contact corrosion and mould formation in the joint s. The window wall has double glazing with a Uw  value of 1.1 W/m²K. The thermally decoupled threshold also contributes to the excellent thermal insulation, which additionally features a particularly flat threshold.
Resemblance to the old “Hotel Schiff”
The other materials of the café-pavilion have been carefully selected and use a very subdued colour scheme. White-painted steel round supports and timber beam floors form the supporting structure. The acoustic ceiling with square perforations and downlights integrated into the gypsum cardboard is likewise white. As flooring the architect chose a polished black screed interspersed with bright Kressbronn pebbles (approx. 10-16 mm in size). The furniture – chairs with high backs, tables with walnut veneer – reflects the darker colour scheme. Reddish merbau wood is used for the bar and on the walls leading to the side rooms. Here, in the style of the old “Hotel Schiff” that formerly stood on this spot, Thomas Stoppel has realised a stylised ship. The format of the timber flooring mimics ship’s planks, emphasised by the specially milled edging, which is grouted with black silicone. The bar has the form of a ship’s bow and the walls rise in similar fashion to a hull.

The redesigned lakeside and café have met with considerable approval from locals and visitors alike. As the mayor said at the opening ceremony on Ascension Day 2009: “Kressbronn has now finally arrived at the lake”.

Text reference: pro publica