Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Villa Vals : By SeARCH and CMA

Vals, Switzerland 
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Ace in the Hole: A design team takes an intrepid approach to build a house on a sensitive site in the Swiss Alps.
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan 
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to move in next door to a building recognized as one of the era’s Modern masterpieces. But a team of architects has boldly taken on the challenge, erecting a house in Vals, Switzerland, an Alpine village of about 1,000 inhabitants that sits at 4,100 feet, deep in a narrow valley in the Graubünden canton. At the proverbial end of the road, Vals put its name on the map 14 years ago when the community took over a hotel complex abandoned by a bankrupt developer and brought in Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, who created a new facility for the town’s thermal baths. Completed in 1996 and widely hailed as a tour de force, Therme Vals has become a place of pilgrimage, in particular for architecture tourists.

Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
Dutch architect Bjarne Mastenbroek of Amsterdam-based SeARCH visited as one of those tourists in the late 1990s. Taken by the awe-inspiring landscape and surprised to discover that it was possible to build up to three stories on the almost-hallowed ground next to the baths, he began investigating erecting a house there. But to purchase land in the area, which is dominated by traditional timber-and-stone farmhouses, required Swiss citizenship. Mastenbroek partnered with Rotterdam-based architect Christian Müller (who is Swiss by birth), and, while financing the project himself, brought in a group of silent owners.
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
In keeping with Mastenbroek and Müller’s characteristic approach of integrating architecture into the landscape or urban fabric, the team first focused on keeping the view across the valley open, not only for their residence, but also for the baths, which sit catty-corner up the hillside. They envisioned a subterranean building, one with intertwined interior spaces that would fit together like the pieces of puzzle. “We knew we would not be able to build this house in the Swiss style — in a perfectionist way,” says Mastenbroek, citing financial constraints and noting that it wouldn’t be as compelling a solution. “You can never compete with the thermal baths’ perfection — that radical, minimal, pure approach,” he says. “So we went for a more experimental, almost industrial building. We developed a kind of nonperfection that was interesting for us, and we collaborated with other designers from the Netherlands to make a Dutch interior.”
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan 
Though experimental, the house also embraces local building traditions, most notably with its facade, made from split stone recovered from the site — the ubiquitous Valser quartzite of the thermal baths and Vals rooftops — and by incorporating an existing structure on the site. Originally, the limit of the plot for sale by a local farmer ran right through one of the simple stone-and-wood bi-level livestock barns that are emblematic of the Alpine hillsides. To safeguard the barn, the property line was redrawn and the architects incorporated the building into their plan, shoring it up, pouring a new concrete floor and stair, and using it as a mudroom that connects to the house by way of a 72-foot-long, stepped concrete tunnel.
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
Because building in Switzerland costs so much, the architects determined to make the house self-sufficient. So they created it as a rental property, a move that improves its sustainable value as well, by encouraging continuous use of the site. This decision also reinforced their instinct to create something completely unconventional. ”This whole idea of a holiday villa relates to having a special experience — something removed from the daily way of living,” says Mastenbroek. Taking an unorthodox approach in a tradition-bound locale had other advantages. At first, Vals’s building commission, composed of seven representatives from the village, was skeptical. “But when we explained what we wanted to do,” says Mastenbroek, “in terms of keeping the views open for the bath, having privacy, not obstructing the landscape, and using the barn as an entrance, they immediately understood our approach and were very helpful.” Furthermore, with logic prevailing, the on-site timber mock-up of the building’s volume normally required during the approval process by Swiss planning laws was waived, as was the compulsory pitched roof tiled with the indigenous stone. 
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan 
To prepare the site, the team of local builders excavated 36 feet into the side of the hill and poured a reinforced-concrete retaining wall. They then built a simple shoe box, 52 feet wide, 26 feet deep, and two-and-a-half stories high, and closed the volume with a concave front. This approach yielded a protected patio and a large facade with ample opportunities for apertures. 
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
Concrete forms the prevailing material inside, with a restrained use of oak panels and doors providing a warm counterpoint. The limited palette serves as a natural backdrop for furnishings from a panoply of Dutch designers. But a lot is crammed into the 1,700-square-foot house, and a bit of editing would help to display the singularity of these pieces. While the common spaces and bedroom on the ground floor all open to the patio and are full of light, each of the upper bedrooms, which are accessed at different levels off the long corridor running along the retaining wall, feels like its own cloistered apartment. Subterranean living triggers a particular emotion, notes Mastenbroek, “an almost primal feeling of security,” as well as providing thermal insulation. Additionally, the architects incorporated sustainable mechanical systems, such as a ground-source heat pump, heat exchanger, and radiant floors. The house also forgoes fossil fuels, using only hydroelectric power generated at the nearby Zervreila Reservoir
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan 
With a single gesture, SeARCH and Christian Müller Architects have creatively addressed the challenges of a sensitive site. And, while conceptually counterintuitive, in fact Villa Vals inserts itself into the fabric of its hillside with great respect. Balancing fantasy with reality, it declares its presence while at the same time deferring to the natural landscape, local vernacular architecture, and the thermal baths just up the hill. 
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
Villa-Vals-SeARCH-7830 @ Iwan Baan 
Photo © Iwan Baan 
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan 
Villa Vals
Photo © Iwan Baan
Villa-Vals-SeARCH-6768 @ Iwan Baan 
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Villa Vals SeARCH 6756 Villa Vals SeARCH 6756
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Villa Vals SeARCH 6471 Villa Vals SeARCH 6471
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Villa-Vals-SeARCH-7923 @ Iwan Baan
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1Villa-Vals-SeARCH-7899 @ Iwan Baan
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Villa-Vals-SeARCH-6538 @ Iwan Baan
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zVilla-Vals-SeARCH-6233 @ Iwan Baan
Photo © Iwan Baan
plan 01 plan 01
Image courtesy SeArch and CMA 
plan 02 plan 02
Image courtesy SeArch and CMA
Villa Vals
Image courtesy SeArch and CMA 
Villa Vals
Image courtesy SeArch and CMA
Villa Vals
Image courtesy SeArch and CMA 
Elevation ElevationElevation
section 01 section 01section 01
section 02 section 02section 02
axo axoaxo
sketch sketchsketch
Completion Date: September 2009
Gross square footage: 1722 ft² house + 269 ft² tunnel + 1076 ft² barn

the People

Hamerstraat 3
NL - 1021 JT  Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 788 99 00
F +31 (0)20 788 99 11
Design: Bjarne Mastenbroek and Christian Müller
Christian Müller Architects
Delftseplein 36
NL - 3013 AA  Rotterdam
T +31 (0) 10 213 67 63
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Assistants: SeARCH > Louis Toebosch, Ton Gilissen, Laura Álvarez Rodríguez, Alexandra Schmitz w/ Michal Palej, Daniel Abraha, Markus Wesselmann
Assistants: CMA > Blazej Kazmierski, David Strebicki
Interior designer:
Interior design cardboard bedroom: Studio JVM, Jeroen van Mechelen (www.studiojvm.nl)
Interior design excluding cardboard bedroom: Bjarne Mastenbroek
Interior advises: Christian Müller, Monica Ketting & Thomas Eyck (www.thomaseyck.com)
*Special thanks to the municipality of Vals, Vitra Nederland BV, Moooi BV, Belux AG, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Jongeriuslab, Claudy Jongstra and Thomas Eyck.
Contractor main structure:
Kurt Schnyder
Bauunternehmung, Vals, CH
Structural engineering: Alex Kilchmann, Schluein, CH
Glass façade engineering and construction:
Walch GmbH, Ludesch, AT
Carpenter, interior finishing: A. Gartmann AG, Vals, CH
Cardboard interior:
Nedcam shaping technology,
Apeldoorn, NL
Cupboards, step chest:
van hier tot Tokio’, Japanese
Antiques, Amsterdam,NL
Electrical installations: Comet GmbH, Vals, CH
Plumbing & Water installations: Oscar Caduff, Vals, CH
Mechanical Ventilation & heating regeneration:
Lippuner EMT AG, Grabs, CH
Avalanche protection:
Geobrugg AG, Romanshorn, CH
Fire places and stoves:
Maurus Cathomas, Ilanz, CH
Iwan Baan
+31 (0)6 5463 0468
CAD system, project management, or other software used:

the Products

Living room: Floor light:
Blossom series 14 till 36, Hella Jongerius for Belux AG
Paper Floorlamp, Studio Job for Moooi
Fringe 5, Studio Edward van Vliet (SEVV) for Moooi
Ceiling light:
Milk Bottle lamp, Bonne Plat for Leitmotiv
Table lights:
Rabbit lamp, Marcel Wanders for Moooi
Work, Dick van Hoff for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
Chair and Sofa:
Workers series, Hella Jongerius for Vitra
Papa Bear (Teddy) Chair PP19, Hans J. Wegner for AP Stolen, 1950’s from Klassik, Copenhagen, DK
6905 Gelderland, Scholten & Baijings for Gelderland
van hier tot Tokio, Japanese 1920’s antique
Paper Buffet, Studio Job for Moooi
Design by Christian Müller
Big White Pot, Red White Vase and Soup Tureen hand painted 19%, Hella Jongerius for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
Still Life Series; Butterflies hand painted Vase, Studio Job for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
B-set by Hella Jongerius for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
Hella Jongerius for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
t.e. 02 till t.e. 10 by Aldo Bakker for Thomas Eyck, Oosternijkerk, NL
Cushions and plaids:
t.e. 22 till t.e. 43 by Scholten & Baijings for Thomas Eyck
Grand Bernard t.e. 55 and t.e. 61 carafes by Scholten & Baijings for Thomas Eyck
One piece Zebrano wood 360x85cm, Bjarne Mastenbroek
Inspired by the ‘Brick House’ kitchen, London by Adam Caruso, Caruso St. John Architects
Ceiling lights:
Blossom series, Hella Jongerius for Belux AG
Smoke Chandelier by Maarten Baas for Moooi
Wall Carpet:
By Claudy Jongstra, Spannum, NL
Bedroom ground floor:
Interior design by Studio JVM, Jeroen van Mechelen
Cushion and plaids;
see living room
Cushions & plaids:
see living room
Knotted Chair by Marcel Wanders for Droog and Verner Panton antique
Claudy Jongstra, Spannum, NL
Sheets and blankets:
Ecological and fair trade Cotton for Cotton Matters
Cupboards, step chest:
‘van hier tot Tokio’, Japanese Antiques, Amsterdam, NL
Decorated MaMa vase, Roderick Vos for Royal Tichelaar Makkum
Dutchtub by Floris Schoonderbeek from DoubleDutch GmbH, Frauenfeld, CH
Fire basket ‘Gebr. Knip’ from Royal Tichelaar Makkum
Former Olympic Stadium 1928, Amsterdam, antique
Lacefence, by DeMakersVan, Rotterdam, NL
Paper Chandelier, Studio Job for Moooi
via:archrecord--By Beth Broome
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