Don’t judge a book by its cover

This 200-year-old wood and granite building may look like an unassuming, rustic abode from the outside—but don’t let its weathered facade deceive you. Swiss firm Buchner Bründler Architekten renovated the centuries-old building into a summer home that boasts a clean and minimalist light-filled interior.

If you were lucky enough to have a grandmother with a melon field, perhaps you remember those irregularly shaped tomatoes, with a color that ranged from deep red to light greenish. They did not look great, but once you cut them, their aroma would flood the room and then you would discover their rich and unique taste. Now, all you see in the grocery stores are perfectly round, sparkling red tomatoes, that look like copies of some ideal prototype, yet remain completely and disappointingly flavorless.

The conclusion is rather inevitable: nature triumphs in total dissimilarity and seeming disarray, when human intervention is excluded. Sometimes you see chaos, but if you look at it from a distance you will be able to conceive the genius harmony and beauty. In other words, every effort to rearrange or regularize nature, lacks respect. On the other hand, once we let nature triumph in its chaotic order, it compensates us with unsurpassed beauty!

In architecture, this view is expressed with buildings that respect their surroundings, using local materials and abiding by the bioclimatic building principles. The Swiss architects, Buchner Bründler Architekten are among the groundbreaking enthusiasts of this theory, who have taken it a step further, by presenting a stunning stone summerhouse, featuring intact its 200-year-old exterior, but boasting a sensational interior rebuild almost from scratch.

If you see this as a mere expression of sophistication you will have missed the point, which is practically an invitation to simplicity and a return to nature. Their goal was not to surprise the house’s guests, but to turn it into a contemporary benchmar of minimalism. Free from any unnecessary intervention, this house seems to abide exclusively to the rules of functionality, with geometric and flugal aesthetics, which contrasts with nature’s famed disorder.

Here is how Buchner Bründler Architekten describe their work:

The village of Linescio lies in the secluded Rovana Valley in Ticino, surrounded by groves of chestnut trees and terraced fields. Here, only 30 km from Locarno, it feels as if one were in a different world. Some of the existing stone houses stand empty, but the core of the village is still intact, with buildings distinguished by their granite walls and roof coverings. The peace and original character of this location spurred the architects to use the present 200-year-old stone house as a holiday residence and to preserve as much of the existing fabric as possible, complementing it with an unusual new structure.

From the outside, the only visible changes are the glass door to the garden and the new concrete chimney stack. Internally, however, a house within a house has been constructed, with a homogeneous, monolithic concrete volume inserted inside the existing walls, a structure that opens to the south and west by means of high, folding wooden shutters. Conceived for summer use, it was possible to do without heating, new windows and insulation and to leave the outer facade in its existing state.

The concrete was brought in layer by layer through the opened roof, with the existing walls acting as permanent shuttering. On the inside, the untreated exposed concrete surfaces bear the bold texture of the formwork. In the extension, too – a timber-laced beam structure, formerly used for drying chestnuts – all new elements are consistently made of concrete: the bathtub as a recess in the floor, and the kitchen worktop with a sink integrated as a single cast form. The plastic, evocative qualities of the exposed concrete intensify the archaic character and the calm atmosphere of this stone house.

So, what do you say? Would you like to spend your vacation in a house like this one?

Source: Simplicity Love

Photography © Ruedi Walti | Images courtesy of Buchner Bründler Architekten