Situated near the alpine village of Charrat in the canton of Valais, this new house emerges from a nineteenth-century house and barn that, if fully renovated, would have exceeded the client’s needs. The existing building had few qualities apart from its thick stone walls, then covered in render – the roof was too shallow, windows were small and poorly positioned, and half the building was in use as a barn.
Retaining what was useful – the cellars, first floor and half of the second floor – a new intervention was planned to link better with the environment of vineyards, stone walls and the Alps. By reducing the 320 square metres floor area to 230 square metres, costs were also kept down.
A distinctive contrast is made between old and new by the geometric lines of the reinforced concrete structure, cast with oxides to give a hue similar to the tuff stone in the walls. Two new concrete volumes sit on the 80-centimetre-wide insulated and lined stone walls. The angled indentations erase, at least visually, the thickness of wall. The various faces also produce a play of the shadows through the day.
Small openings in the existing walls accentuate the contrast with the new top, where large horizontal windows frame the landscape. This openness is also apparent in the corridor-less plan, where interior walls avoid the facades.
Architect: Clavienrossier Architectes; design team: Valéry Clavien, Nicolas Rossier; photos: Roger Frei.
First published AT226, March 2012