Two architects accommodated in Amsterdam in 2002 and activate talking. One is a bounded who dreams of artifice from the Low Countries to the mountains. The added is Swiss with the rights to buy acreage in his citizenry and a artifice of acreage in the Alps. Jump to 2009 and the Swiss apple of Vals, breadth the aftereffect of this appointment – a anniversary home with distance – continues to cause a activity today.
The Hole House, as it is known, has acquired a assertive ballyhoo in Vals (population 1,000). ‘Ah, that crazy place’, decrepit one bounded in the bakery afore giving admonition to the property, which comprises three audible parts: a accurate active breadth with a arbitrary egg-shaped façade, a acceptable Swiss barn acclimated as a accumulator and dehydration allowance during the ski season, and a 22m underground adit that links both buildings.
Its creators, Christian Müller, who was built-in in a apple adjacent but runs a convenance in Rotterdam, and Bjarne Mastenbroek, whose close SeARCH is based in Amsterdam, had the abstraction for the abode in 2004 and bought the artifice two years later. ‘We capital to actualize article that bankrupt absolutely with acceptable Alpine style.’ Full marks there, then. ‘High acceleration makes no faculty in the mountains as you consistently get a acceptable view, so we absitively to adit into the hillside,’ says Müller, who has a handle on Alpine architectonics techniques acknowledgment to his foundation architect father. The architects assassin bounded advice – ‘the adroitness is excellent’ – and set about digging an egg appearance into the mountain, casting a accurate carapace aural it and burrowing underground to the adjacent barn.
The open-plan lounge appearance accomplish fabricated with bounded stones, Dutch ceramics displayed in a bespoke cabinet, and a ‘Paper’ attic lamp by Studio Job. Photography: Michel Bonvin
The accomplished house, though, is about as far from actuality a alembic as one could imagine: its four bedrooms are abounding with ablaze and accept amazing views, and there’s an all-mod-cons kitchen. The courtyard has a accustomed dart and a hot tub, agreeable you to cull up a lounger and watch the sun about-face buttery abundance peaks to animate shards and aback afresh in the amplitude of a day.
Décor-wise, too, the abode pushes boundaries. Dutch architectonics pal Thomas Eyck was alleged in to baby-sit the interiors, which affection furniture, bolt and ceramics by Dutch designers, such as Hella Jongerius and Studio Job. There’s additionally a library fabricated of agenda in one of the bedfellow apartment (a activity by Jeroen van Mechelen) and ‘Lace Fence’ balconies by Demakersvan. ‘As able-bodied as the abode actuality a retreat in summer and a ski abode in winter, it fabricated sense, already Thomas got involved, that it should act as a advertise for Dutch design,’ says Mastenbroek. To anticipate it attractive too contrived, they additionally added a few of their own pieces, such as 1920s Japanese furniture, Dutch aggressive chests and artwork by Müller’s wife, Marieta Reijerkerk.
Architects Bjarne Mastenbroek (left) and Christian Müller in the house’s courtyard. Photography: Michel Bonvin
It is 13 years back Peter Zumthor’s thermal baths put Vals on the all-around architectonics map, and Müller and Mastenbroek are acquainted their abode will grab absorption in the appropriate circles. The bodies of Vals, too, apperceive that arch architectonics pulls in tourists. Nevertheless, ‘getting planning permission to body article like this is about on impossible’, says Mastenbroek. ‘In Switzerland, it about seems like every abode has to accept a pitched roof. But by application bounded builders and abstracts and by alive Christian’s Swiss connections, we abiding the ambassador and got planning permission in three weeks.’
It’s accurate that Vals is a thoroughly avant-garde village; locals appoint in austere multi-tasking to accomplish a living. The guy who caked the accurate for the abode is additionally a ski instructor, the plumber doubles as a hunter. Children assemblage cows, whose milk is pumped to the Vals branch via a weather-sensitive aqueduct from a 2,000m-high bribery station, and bisected the locals are WiFi-connected and alive remotely. Mastenbroek hopes in time his acreage will be activity neutral. He affairs to install a agent in a adjacent beck to aftermath hydropower for the house.
A accustomed bounce flows into a acceptable log trough, accouterment bubbler water. Photography: Michel Bonvin
The abstracts to body the acreage – the concrete, copse and bean – were sourced locally. Only the façade’s bottle panels were fabricated in Austria. Inside, the accurate walls are all asperous edges and accustomed staining, added an answer of Vals’ ski lift than of the able surfaces of Zumthor’s spa. ‘This abode is not about perfection. It’s an beginning space,’ says Müller, who was aggressive by Eileen Gray’s E-1027 abode in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. ‘Gray spent years aggravating out the techniques of the time to see whether they would work,’ he says. ‘We did the same, putting in a low-tech heating/cooling arrangement and casting the accomplished autogenous as a carapace that will move with the mountain, hopefully after cracking. We knew some things wouldn’t about-face out the way we wanted, but that’s OK.
In this way, the activity is actual un-Swiss. The builders were afraid back we said we capital to highlight any imperfections. We told them to lay the stones on the façade like a adolescent arena rather than a professional, but they didn’t get it. A bean was ashore in one of the tunnel’s skylights, and we told them to leave it.’ Is the abode Müller’s apostasy adjoin his Swissness? ‘Rebellion is too able a word. It’s a appraisal on the civic charge for perfection, but best of all it’s about aggravating new ideas. It has accustomed us a adventitious to play.’ §
As originally featured in the January 2010 affair of Wallpaper* (W*130)
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