Villa Bellevue by Bureau A

Individual villas have played a particular role in the history of domesticity. They are inevitably the set for the rich and dramatic play of family life whether in fiction or reality. In that sense all villas belong to a very same lineage : a stage for the domestic drama: love, passion, adultery, brotherhood ; the ups and down of family and love stories. Regardless of whether the scenario comes with a happy ending or not, similarities appear in all domestic environments.

Bellevue Avenue, a three and a half kilometre long street in Los Angeles which hits on one end the eternal Sunset Boulevard, another street closely tied to the history of Hollywood as well as the title of a famous Billy Wilder movie. The villa inside which the action takes place, in a certain Hollywood tradition, works as a claustrophobic set displaying the strained and decadent life of Norma Desmond. The entire world of Norma shrivels up in the nostalgia which can be found in every millimetre of the interior space of the villa. The entire décor
reveals a past grandeur and the sadness of her actual life.

On the other side of the world, in Geneva, a young family settles down in another villa in another Bellevue. The home life setting is designed for an opposite scenario, for a life that expands, opens to the exterior and avoids claustrophobia. Spaces are now constantly connected with each other and the whole house fights against the darkness of “Norma’s life”, who was trapped in a static feeling of fake comfort. Here everything is white or clear, and could predestined the family to another scenario with a happy ending – or actually no ending at all, leaving the family free to write their own home life. However, a tiny sign speaks out about the fragility of every designed interior as well as the vulnerability of every family.

The light bulbs of the library remind us of something, recalling a glimpse of a backstage make-up mirror. They say, like Jake Lamotta does in another seminal movie, that at the end “it’s all entertainment”.

Contemporary Alpine House by Ralph Germann architectes

Ralph Germann architectes designed this alpine house for a couple who wished to live in a harmonious environment, but there was a prerequisite that it could also comfortably handle gatherings of 20 persons.

The architects approached the brief by visiting the surroundings, observing the vernacular architecture of these pre-alps. The overall design was inspired by the simplicity of forms and volumes of the local farms. Ralph Germann architectes selected three key materials for the project: larch (facades, interior furniture and fixtures), concrete and lime (interior walls).

The house was designed as ecological as possible, installing a heating system that uses a wood pellet stove.

One of the most impressive features of the house is the 35m long “Wall sculpture” realized by Swiss artist Thierry Kupferschmid in Corten steel, which brings poetry to the entrance alley.

Some furniture and all interior fixtures were custom built for the house. A 12m long library was designed on the 2nd floor and the 5m high fireplace in the in the living area has been built with 8mm thick plates of laminated steel. The basement of the house incorporates a spa area and a 20 meter long swimming pool.

Architecture and interior design: Ralph Germann architectes
Photography: Lionel Henriod
Location: Swiss pre-alps / Fribourg
Size: 900 m2


Children’s Hospital Zürich by Herzog & de Meuron

The victory in a design competition for a children’s hospital in Zürich, Switzerland belongs to architects of a Basilei based office Herzog & de Meuron. The project is based on a three storey object of the hospital with a wooden facing that offers flexible and comfortable atmosphere for children, and a six storey research and training centre, which will become a part of the premises. Two objects with differences in typology and programs are connected with the use of forms and simple geometry. The main building of the hospital will be used for diagnostics and treatment of children and youth patients, while the research and training facility will serve scientific purposes. The hospital building will be arranged around inner atriums, where the patients are allowed to move freely. Three storeys are a result of a goal to create a place for children that does not intimidate them with its size and scale. The utilized material contributes to the more pleasant appeal of this hospital, which differentiates it from the more traditional medical facilities.


Atelier Bardill by Valerio Olgiati

A house built for the musician and poet Linard Bardill replaced an old barn as a part of a protected centre of the village of Scharans, Switzerland. Permission for the construction was obtained only on the condition that the new structure will retain the shape and volume of the original one. The investor lives in a nearby house and he needed only one third of the volume for his atelier, so the rest of the building serves as an atrium with an mounmental character granted by a large elliptic opening in the ceiling. The architect’s (Valerio Olgiati) material of choice makes it unique. The red in-situ concrete, gaining its colour from a mixture of red red rocks and concrete blend, is embossed with flower ornaments all over the exterior and interior. These were hand carved by two artisans during the construction.


Vallée de Joux by Atelier d’architecture Ralph Germann

It is in respect of that situation, this project has been built.

Standing on a plot of 800 square meters, a few steps from the Lake Joux’s shores, an anthracite metallic shell shields the interior life of this house from the famous harsh climate. The vernacular use of this ondulated metal sheet inspired the architect.

The fine-cut openings marked by their larch frame hide away its residents while framing the poetic surrounding scenery. Each living space offers its occupant the opportunity to discover or even to contemplate the nature and the lake of this beautiful valley.

Built with local and environmentally friendly materials (“Minergie” Label) that envelope contains a sleek and minimalist interior. White walls and larch are used in a perfect harmony in order to give a calm atmosphere to the place.

On the ground floor, a large piece of furniture in larch spans from the dining room to the living room covering entirely the common wall. Either library or cabinet, this great item is pierced by two large slits and a glass door giving the desired perspective from inside.

The first floor, accessible by two red lacquered staircases rising on each side of the lobby, is separated into two parts. On one side stands the master bedroom with its bathroom, and on the other side accommodations can be offered to family and guests. These two distinct spaces create a pleasant sense of privacy for anyone staying there.

architects: Atelier d’architecture Ralph Germann
photos: Lionel Henriod/mc2


Janus – Extension of the city museum

The buildings of Rapperswil-Jona Stadtmuseum complex have been around for more than 700 years. The small castle complex from the end of the 13th century, nestled in a picturesque area above the lake Zurich, consists of a guardtower, a residential area and adjacent farm buildings along the city walls. The museum building has recently undergone a large scale reconstruction, introducing a design by the Swiss studio mlzd. As the winners of a 2007 competition, mlzd in cooperation with the municipality helped to restore the national significance of the museum. The aim of the project was to transcend the city boundaries and to reach out to new culture-lovers and present the museum and the city as an attractive tourist destination.

The new building was carefully integrated into the existing organism of the old town. The facade and the roof are designed to not cover the existing windows and doors of the original buildings. The north side of the building reflects the character of urban landscape, therefore it remained unchanged. In the winding streets and alleys, the new structure tries not to interrupt the characteristic image of this beautiful area by its presence. Simultaneously, its majestic bronze facade made of TECU Bond, creating the main access point of the modern complex, contributes to a specific new tone of the area.


Museum der Kulturen by Herzog & de Meuron

Architects of the Swiss office Herzog & de Meuron renovated a historical museum in Basel, Switzerland, where one of the most important ethnographic collections of Europe is being currently preserved. The renovation process resulted in creation of a new roofing over the museum, which resembles a crown of scales due to its irregular folds clad in blackish green ceramic tiles. Hexagonal tiles, some of them bent and protruded, refract the natural light even when cloudy and create a playful detail. The tiled roof rests on a steel framework and creates a large column-free space suitable for the gallery underneath. The architects expanded window openings and removed one storey in the current building and thus created an additional double-height exhibition area. Access to the the museum was relocated to the rear, where the courtyard is sloped down towards the museum – leading its visitors inside.


Residential extension by dB_dubail begert Architects

Swiss architecture studio dB_dubail begert Architects has recently finished an extension of a residential house in Le Noirmont, Switzerland. The most interesting element of this house is a staircase specially designed to open the interior space. The surrounding walls of the stairway are made of polycarbonate shell which allow one to see movements inside as well as outside.

The stairway itself is made of metal and reflects coloured light highlighting toned glass panels which change colors from to floor to the ceiling. Construction of the stairway creates large space in a building with small apartments from 1907. The architects worked with space, shape, light of various colors and transparency.


Crooked House

Fovea Architects from Switzerland have designed a unique house constructed from prefabricates called as Crooked house. As for the inspiration, the authors got inspired by the eaves typical for local houses; their appearance and functions. The interior space consists of two storeys. The upper level is built in an angle of 40 degrees to the ground-floor what provides a roofing for a terrace on the first floor. A number of large windows provide enough of light and privacy.

The house is south oriented. The first floor is very simple with shapes and rectangular ground plan. Its space was extended by already mentioned outside terrace. Windows are concentrated mainly on the southern facade because architects were taking into account the planned development in the area and wanted to preserve the privacy of the owners. Even though the geometry of windows is rhythmical and harmonic. The exterior wall covering is made from pine planks put in different directions.


Wine Store

Recently a new Albert Reichmuth wine store has been opened in Zurich, Switzerland. The interior was designed by Swiss design company OOS. This well-known mark of wine has opened for the first time its showroom accessible to the public on Feldestrasse 62 in Zurich. “La galerie du vin” is not only shop but a place where customer can taste wine or attend a lecture. Its aim is to attract not only existing customers but new passing by customers as well.

Design by OOS reminds of traditional storage spaces with wine while the product is still the predominating element. The concept is based on a presentation of different types of wine as one can see in a museum or gallery. Wooden crates become architectural piece and a piece of furniture as well. They are put in a crosshatch layout that serves as a platform for more than 570 wines and books about wine of course and provides a sitting space and show-cases. The reception desk is situated right in the middle of the interior. Colour in purple it contrasts with wooden interior. On the other side of the front section a living room with a kitchenette is situated where lectures for up to 15 persons are organized.


Red House

Two Swiss architects Niklaus Graber and Christoph Steiger have founded their own architecture studio Graber und Steiger already in 1995. Since then, they have been working on a number of various architecture projects, exhibitions and published a number of architecture books. The Red House is interesting for its functional simplicity and elegance of how the light enters the interior. It was dubbed the Red House because of the exterior covering made from red facade tiles. The building is located at a steep terrain in beautiful surroundings in the Luzern valley, Switzerland. The surrounding buildings are in modern style. Anyway they are quite distant from the red house, so it seems that it is built on a green field. This two-storey building was made-to-measure to the owners. Inhabitants of the house can enjoy privacy inside the house, as well as on the outside thanks to the semi-open space designed as a terrace separated from the living-room and the kitchen by glazed walls. Every window in the house is set in different height, what seems to be chaotic but it was intention of the designers to lighten up only some parts of the interior.


Actelion business center

The Swiss architecture office Herzog & de Meuron does not need to be introduced. Their architecture is very unique and cannot be overlooked. Their most recently completed project is the Actelion business center in Allschwil, Switzerland. At first site it reminds us of the game tetris where the tetris volumes seem to be floating. This floating trick is created with big cantilevers from ferroconcrete and steel. The project provides 350 offices for employees of a pharmaceutical company while harboring an open and communicative work environment. Roofs are planted with grass or conceived as roof terraces. The building is absolutely transparent in all aspects. Ducts and piping were purposely avoided in the walls to limit communicative barriers. An important element are braces organized in k- and x-shapes. They are fully visible and so represent not only functional but also aesthetical value. While designing this building the environment has not been overlooked – the triple-glazed windows feature automatically adjusting louvers.