After moving into an apartment studio without storage room in Bern, Switzerland, Till Könneker decided to make a minimalistic cube design with a shelf for his vinyl collection, television, clothes and shoes. On the cube is a guest bed and inside the cube is plenty of storage space. This is a 2 x 4 x 1,4 meters cube tapered on the door side. The material used is a 3-Layer spruce of 22 mm and the surface is a black and pickled finish with Biofa Hard Oil. Remo Zimmerli transferred Könneker’s sketches from a design concept into a finished product very beautifully. “A house is not really flexibly but we can re-think the space and furniture inside. I believe useful furniture must be adapted to the needs of the user”, states Könneker. If you love this “living cube” design, you can have one custom designed for yourself, from here.
Photos: Rob Lewis
SeARCH and CMA collaborated to create Villa Vals, a holiday retreat dug in to the alpine slopes of Vals in Switzerland. The surrounding nature has been left undisturbed and unobstructed by any sort of architectural development. Not only does the project defer to the natural landscape, but also to the vernacular architecture while protecting the views of the nearby spa. A-typical of alpine architecture, this three-level 2,421 square foot (225 square meters) villa still uses local building traditions and materials including its facade made from Valser quartzite recovered from the site and found in the nearby thermal baths and on the roof tops of Vals. A stone and wood bi-level graubunder barn ubiquitous to the Alpine hills has been integrated into the plan and given new life as the entrance to the house via a 22-meter concrete tunnel. The house is experienced as a welcoming light at the end of a tunnel.
The introduction of a central patio into the steep incline creates a large facade with considerable potential for window openings. The viewing angle from the building is slightly inclined, giving an even more dramatic view of the strikingly beautiful mountains on the opposite side of the narrow valley. The windows within the facade have been arranged in order to display the various levels of the interior, which in turn are like nested concrete boxes. Custom cast concrete icons in the facade serve as vents and flues. The stone courtyard features a natural spring and a hot tub (dutchtub) from which one can enjoy the breathtaking views across the valley in privacy. Being there surrounded by the snowcapped Alps makes you feel as if you’re a part of the elements.
One could also book a room in this very unique home at the official website of Villa Vals.
The concrete interior is offset by rustic qualities further anchoring the building to the surrounding landscape including oak panels and doors and natural stone steps. The contrasting interior acts as a neutral backdrop. Dutch designer Thomas Eyck was called in to oversee the interiors which feature furniture, textiles and ceramics by Dutch designers including Hella Jongerius and Studio Job.
The interior features a compact setup of bedrooms with bunk beds, elevated bathrooms and raised podiums with king-size beds. All four bedrooms are flooded with light and views. The first floor includes the kitchen, living room and bedroom that doubles as a library, designed Studio JvM.
The villa is thermally insulated and features ground source heat pump, radiant floors, heat exchanger and uses only hydroelectric power generated by the nearby reservoir.
Photos: Iwan Baan
This building was constructed in stages from 1814 onwards and was used as a rural house in Chamoson, Switzerland. It is made up of three adjacent areas on different levels. On the ground floor it is crossed by an access way which indicates the presence of a former right of way to the next-door building. The imposing proximity of the rocks and its stone construction lend this building a unity with its surroundings and a very strong mineral character. The renovation project by Savioz Fabrizzi Architectes seeks to maintain and reinforce this character, emphasizing the existing stone structure while using concrete for the parts to be replaced, in order to create a completely mineral feel to the whole.
The 3,422 square foot (318 square meters) exterior volume has not been changed. The stone facades have been preserved and lined inside with an insulating layer of concrete based on foamed recycled glass (Misapor). This insulating lining forms the new load-bearing structure, reinforces the old stone walls and provides thermal insulation. The parts of the facade formerly of timber weatherboarding have been replaced by a monolithic wall of insulating concrete with formwork which reproduces the former texture of the timber.
The former window apertures have been retained and some larger windows added in order to let more natural light into the main interior spaces and to provide views over the surrounding landscape. These new windows are flush with the exterior in order to minimize their impact on the volume of the building, as well as to emphasize and make good use of the substantial thickness of the walls.
With its good thermal insulation, controlled ventilation and energy from renewable sources, this renovation complies with the Swiss “Minergie” energy conservation standard. 23 square meters of solar panels on the roof produce about 35% of the annual heating requirement (heating and hot water).
In harmony with the exterior, the interior is formed from unrefined mineral materials, with its natural stone, exposed concrete and polished screed floors. Only a few elements, such as the kitchen or the sanitary fittings, are in contrast to this character.
Photos: Thomas Jantscher
2 Verandas is a house designed by Gus Wüstemann Architects for a young South African family in Erlenbach, Switzerland just outside Zurich along the lake. The plot is in a suburban context and therefor pretty dense with family homes, typical for the area. The site is on a slope, where on top there are beautiful views to the lake with evening sun and at the lower part there is a group of smaller family houses. The clients asked for a house that made most of the big plot, wanting a view, but not end up with a house on top of the hill and the rest of the garden down below.
The architect’s solution for this plot was to occupy the periphery of the site, with the main house on top of the hill and the pool house at the bottom, both houses connected through a solid stony promenade: 2 verandas. By occupying the periphery: there is one veranda at the top, the promenade is going alongside the eastern boarder of the plot leading to the south end, there is a park in the middle of the site. The park can be consumed as nature from all three sides and therefor there is no ‚left over’ of land. The stony promenade connects the two verandas, is a site of its own, where you walk or sit and enjoy the view to the lake or the park. With the promenade, the garden moves up to the level of the living room and it connects all levels of the house with the garden.
The main house is a stony, concrete, hammer shaped volume over two levels, that contains the living rooms. In the upper part is the ‚public ‘living room for invitations and dining with a beautiful view over the lake of Zurich. On the ground level is the family lounge with an exterior patio that can be joined as one room with the living room. All the windows disappear and the inside and outside patio become one. That patio connects all bedrooms and is a lounge to sit together privately and watch a movie.
The circulations in and out of that space are controlled by concrete volumes at the ceiling that condense the space through mass and light and slow the circulation. The two rooms are crossed above each other, at the ground floor level; a wooden curtain has been pulled around the concrete volume to create the private sleeping quarters. The upper living room has a shark fin like shape, so the space is very high at the back of the space with northern sky lights, and is lower at the front to frame the view.
The inside and the outside are joined, all the windows disappear, so there is only the concrete mass left. The inside becomes a covered outside space: Mediterranean feeling in the northern hemisphere. The absence of the window is the essential instrument to actually unite in and outside space; it is the glass itself that reminds us of the border of in and outside. In many projects nowadays this fact is neglected or simply ignored and therefor glass is used in an extensive way.
The architects chose natural and raw materials like concrete, travertine or wood. The concrete is formed and communicates with the space through light gaps that give that extra feeling of finesse to the shear mass of the concrete. Throughout the whole house indirect lights are giving directions, and attract the periphery of the spaces rather than the center. The indirect light is creating the atmosphere.
On the underground floor there is a gym, a movie room and wine cellar all arranged around the light up masses of the concrete that give the house a whole different playful area. There is raw concrete and raw wood and therefor a lot of texture.
This stunning luxury resort property called 51 Degrees is nestled high in the mountains of Leukerbad, Switzerland has been interior designed by Marc-Michaels Interior Design Inc. This world-class exclusive getaway retreat hotel, spa and private residences features stunning snow-capped valley views of the mountains and trees. Leukerbad, a quaint resort town of only 1,400 is located in Wallis, Switzerland. It has been known since the Roman times for its thermal waters that pour out at 51° Celsius, or 124° Fahrenheit. The concept of the project is to celebrate the famous water both inside and out, starting with the project architect, Michael Graves, building the envelope in harmony with the site and surrounding village.
The interior design embraces a water theme throughout. Private residences enjoy their own personal spa features in each suite. This getaway retreat showcases stylish and contemporary interiors, with an elegant color palette against natural materials such as reclaimed oak, translucent white quartz, charcoal green slate and smoke grey granite. Expansive and airy floor plans reflect modern living tastes, a spirit which is reflected in the oversized proportions of the rooms as well as in the expansive windows in every room opening onto the magnificent Alps.
The residences are generous in size and limited to just 30. Fabulous for entertaining and serene living, the mountain homes offer 137-225m² of opulence. The elite residences are available in one, three and four bedrooms, kitchens with state-of-the-art Gaggenau appliances and high-tech quartz composite worktops, bar with wine refrigerator and generous terraces or balconies. Blending seamlessly into the alpine environment, the elegant homes boast panoramic views of the mountains and valley.
This is the world’s first development featuring indoor and outdoor thermal spas, with water from deep mountain springs tapped directly into each private residence. Each residence has its own dedicated, unlimited supply of Leukerbad’s fabled thermal water and mineral salts.
Each master suite has its very own personal spa facility, with an indoor-outdoor soaking pool, a steam room and an indoor master bathtub, all of which are fed by dedicated water lines directly from the thermal spring. Most sublime of all is what is probably the best bath in the world. Made of heavy, dark wood and situated next to both the suite’s fireplace and the folding glass wall with its majestic view of the Alps, the massive free-standing soaking tub is the ultimate indulgence.
One of the more decadent indulgences is the sumptuous moon bath, an oversized soaking tub set into the Concetto stone slab on every terrace. Designed for either solitary or social use and accessible from both the master spa suite and living area, and equipped with Jacuzzi water jets, this larger tub can accommodate up to six people. With the outdoor fireplace close at hand and surrounded by history’s most fabled mountains, the outdoor soaking tub is the perfect way to relax.
There will be an impressive array of luxury amenities awaiting residents, including a 5-star hotel, 900m² spa with treatment rooms, fitness studio and pool, restaurants, wine bar, private lounge, private wine cave, screening room, game rooms, children’s club, panoramic lobby/salon area, branded boutiques, doorman, ski valet and expert concierge services.
Feast your eyes on this luxury ski chalet packed with fabulous spa facilities, high tech gadgets and sumptuous furnishings. Chalet Spa Blanche is a delightful timber chalet that blends in well with the alpine scenery, nestling in the smart Swiss resort of Verbier. This residence combines a bright, high tech contemporary interior with a traditional wooden chalet design. Everything about it is hyper-luxurious, from the Bose sound system and home cinema room to the mirrors that turn into TV screens at the touch of a button. With four bedrooms, the chalet can accommodate up to nine people.
In the living room, located on the top floor, the central fireplace adds to the room’s very modern feel thanks to its mantelpiece decorated with mirrors. It has a hearth that is level with the floor. The living room, with a superbly equipped open-plan kitchen, opens onto a large covered terrace furnished with magnificent sofas and a table that can seat up to 10 people. Zen artwork and sculptures enhance the magnificent design of the chalet. The chalet has the exclusive use of the spa, with treatment room, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, hammam and a fully-equipped gym area, offers a large bay window overlooking the terrace with a large jacuzzi with “swim against the current”.
Rates start from $33,011 per week, from here.
All four beautifully furnished bedrooms have en-suite bathroom facilities and two of the bedrooms can connect.
The chalet is equipped with a lovely cinema and games room with a dart board and European billiards table. The fabulous wine cellar adds a superb finishing touch.
Out on the enormous covered balcony, you can round off the evening on comfy chairs with a warming Cognac, looking out over the twinkling lights of Verbier. You might even be tempted to slip into the huge swim spa on the decking below.
A beautiful timber residence in the mountainous region of Leis, Switzerland has become available to rent. For the first time ever, Peter and Annalisa Zumthor are opening up one of their cozy holiday homes in this quiet hamlet to the public, enabling them to rent The Unterhus for weeks at a time. The owners, Peter and Annalisa Zumthor describe their project: “In 2009 we built two timber houses, the Oberhus and the Unterhus, in the hamlet of Leis, just over 1,500m above sea level in the community of Vals in Grisons. From 1 December 2012 onward we are letting out the Unterhus for vacations. A third timber house, the Turmlihus, will soon complete this little ensemble. The Turmlihus will welcome its first guests in autumn 2013. We are very much looking forward to having guests in our timber vacation homes in Leis.”
To rent one of the Zumthor Ferienhäuser holiday homes, prices range from CHF 3,500 to CHF 4,800 per week, from here.
A tiny hamlet of around 20 people, Leis is a remote community set in the soaring mountains of Vals, south-east Switzerland. During the winter months, the area is doused in thick snow with opportunities to ski or gather round the fire of Leis’ only inn, whilst in the warmer seasons two families tend the mountain meadows.
The timber-clad Unterhus property has four-and-a-half rooms and sleeps four to five. With a total area of 150 square meters, it extends over three floors with the top floor advertised as ‘an enclosed viewing platform with a balcony facing southwest’. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides provide uninterrupted views across the mountainous landscape, also viewable from the southwest-facing bedroom on the middle floor.
There are two bedrooms to choose from, one with a king-size bed and the other with two generous single beds which can be pushed together to form a double. A writing desk and day bed occupy the study which can be used as a workspace or additional bedroom, and the lounge on the top floor features a traditional wood-burning soapstone stove for added warmth.
The Türmlihus, which will take in its first guests in the autumn of 2013, has three-and-a-half rooms and sleeps four. With a total area of 128 square meters, it extends across three floors. Both houses have furniture and designer lighting. The kitchens are fully equipped, including an Italian coffee machine, steamer, fondue set, and raclette grill. Each house is fully equipped with all of the modern electronic amenities one could possibly need.
Chalet Norte is an exceptional luxury ski chalet in Verbier, Swiss Alps, Switzerland. Though commanding uninterrupted, breathtaking views over the whole resort, the chalet is incredibly private and a real retreat. Norte is the epitome of elegance and opulence, carrying a regal feel and style up its spiraling staircase from the entrance, all the way up to the beautiful living room. Perfectly placed halfway up the property is the vast wellness area, housing an inviting pool. Not many chalets provide a pool with a view, but floor to ceiling windows at Chalet Norte allow one to feel perched on the mountains edge.
Found throughout the property are numerous works of art, which decorate this incredible chalet to the highest degree. Its luxurious decor and furnishings come courtesy of one of London’s leading interior designers, and floor to ceiling windows provide a constant reminder of the beauty of your surroundings. The chalet staff complete the experience with exceptional service matched only by a 5 star hotel and a traditional twist, not commonly found elsewhere.
Chalet Norte has yet more to offer with a beautiful private cinema, perfect for those winter nights and a wine cave which houses top quality wines to suit all tastes, complete with a peephole window to the depths of the pool. Quite simply, the chalet has everything. Completion was only in 2011, so this truly is a new chalet but with a commanding presence one would expect from a chalet which has seen many a guest come and go.
Nestled into the mountainside, with spectacular views of the resort and surrounding scenery, Chalet Trois Couronnes is a private Alpine Estate in Verbier, Swiss Alps, Switzerland. This masterpiece finished in 2012 has been lovingly created by a team of highly skilled craftsmen, architects, art connoisseurs and interior designers from across Europe. As you turn the key in the ornate wrought iron lock of this luxury ski chalet, you immediately sense that you are entering a truly special and unique property. Stepping into the vast reception and banqueting hall with vaulted ceiling, complete with exquisite antique furniture, superb art gallery and glass wine cellar, confirms this, and yet, you have barely touched the surface.
Venturing deeper into the three buildings of this exceptional chalet, you can’t help but be blown away by the array of stunning authentic features. The chalet is adorned with antique pieces, fine art, gothic fireplaces, forged iron chandeliers and natural stone fountains and washbasins, old wood paneling and floors and ceilings from the 18th and 19th century. The impeccable attention to detail and quality and the adoption of local historical construction techniques translate into an authentic mountain experience.
The entire ground floor of the chalet’s middle building houses a fantastic spa area with pool, hammam, sauna, relaxation area, and terrace with incredible views and an outdoor hot tub. A 19th century, glass encased lift takes you to a lavish master bedroom, with open fireplace, luxury en suite bathroom and private balcony. Seven other luxury en suite bedrooms, each with unique features and plush furnishings are spread across the three wings, in addition to a massive living area, cinema room, wine cellar and Carnotzet and has underground parking for 8 vehicles. The chalet utilizes solar and geothermal heating and is the largest `Minergie` eco-friendly chalet in Verbier.
To stay at this decadent retreat, nightly rates start at $9,704, from here.
The Heinz Julen Loft is a spectacular Manhattan style loft in Zermatt, Switzerland. The wooden chalet was built in the Swiss Alps, combining floor to ceiling glass windows, steel, textured concrete and wood in a unique style of architecture by designer Heinz Julen. The 3,229 square foot (300 square meters) loft was Heinz’s private home where he hosted many rock-star parties and is now available as a luxury catered vacation rental sleeping up to six people. Close to the Omnia Hotel lifts and the heart of Zermatt village, this is the perfect ski retreat.
The main loft living area has a suspended and illuminated table which can be raised and lowered from coffee table, to dining table, to ceiling height; the latter creating a large party space. In one corner you can play on a baby grand Steinway piano, while in another you can sink into a large sofa and gaze simultaneously at the stunning view over the village and at the crackling fireplace set into the glass wall.
From this level a metal staircase leads up to the mezzanine, with a chill-out area, free standing Jacuzzi bath, cozy dining alcove, a kitchen and cantilevered bar area. As you walk on this floor you will notice that the floating feeling it creates is due to it being made entirely of opaque glass with subtle inset lighting.
Overlooking the main loft area, there are two double en-suite bedrooms, one above the other. The third, master bedroom is very private with its own landing, featuring a free-standing bath with wood-slatted massage cover, an island bed on a rotating floor, his and her bedroom sinks, a separate shower room and water closet, a walk-in wardrobe, a sofa, and a TV set into the glass window.
This fabulous loft retreat in the Swiss Alps can be all yours, with rates from $483 – 1,360 per person, per night, from here.