Valéry Clavien and Nicolas Rossier, the duo behind the Swiss architectural practice clavienrossier architectes hes / sia have realised this striking renovation of a family house located in a picturesque Alpine region of Valais. Dating back to 19th-century, the original building included a vast adjacent barn which has been partially demolished in the course of the modernisation and later rebuilt following architects’ plans. The new design of the house, which has been significantly reduced in size, is based around an idea of a ‘strong contrast between the remaining part and the new structures’.
From the architects:
‘Situated away from a small village in the middle of the Swiss Alps (Canton of Valais), this 19th century house included an adjacent barn and had a too vast volume to be renewed in its totality. The existing building had no special qualities apart from the thick stone walls hidden by external plaster cement. The double-sided pitched roof was too low to allow us seeing the surrounding landscape from the garret floor. The existing windows were small; a large part of the volume was blind, half the building was being used as a barn. Consequently, we preferred to intervene directly on the existing building, walls and roof included.
‘We kept what was useful for the project, cellars, first floor and half of the second floor of the old house, demolished the remaining elements and rebuilt according to new rules that was made especially for the project. We wanted to create an ensemble that could communicate with its environment, vineyards, stone walls and the Alps. This way of intervening was as well a response to the client, not to transform the totality of the existing building, cost-wise. We were able to reduce the existing 320 square meters down to 230 square meters.’
‘We wanted to create a strong contrast between the remaining part and the new structures. We chose to oppose clear geometric lines with existing rough old stone walls. Volumes of visible tinted concrete replaced the double-sided roof and the transformed area. We tried to create an ensemble, to establish a dialogue with the existing. That was the reason why we opted for a massive construction made in reinforced concrete, with a stone-like color.’