House in the Mountains
Tschiertschen, Switzerland 2015–2017
This private house is in the centre of Tschiertschen—a small mountain village near Chur in the Graubünden—in the eastern part of Switzerland. The house is used as a weekend home and is also open to local people and the wider public with a programme of art exhibitions and small concerts.
Like most of the old structures in Tschiertschen, the body of the house is made with solid timber construction, known as “Strickbau”, which translates as “knitted construction”. The square-cut logs of the Strickbau form the structural wall, with no internal or external lining.
For many years, the house had been the Café Engi, a simple restaurant with guest rooms, and the building had been considerably altered. The work undertaken is exclusively to the interior of the house, and the project is not a restoration. Instead, the various parts and ages of the building are addressed differently, with the aim of making a comfortable country house with a range of different interior atmospheres.
The design avoids structural modifications, and instead creates a set of interiors that address the very different qualities found within the existing structure. The ground floor, which previously had been extensively modified and where very little of the original still existed, uses colour and timber panelling to make a series of elaborate living rooms, whose new surfaces have a different but parallel intensity to the dark and textured finish of the Strickbau.
At the rear of the house, where a later addition had been made, a double-height salon was formed as a large dining space, that is also used for concerts. The room looks out to the surrounding mountains in three directions, through large horizontal window openings whose size and proportion have been retained from the 1960s renovation. On the first floor, where the original Strickbau was best preserved, the solid wooden surfaces have been restored. On the top floor, where there was no Strickbau construction, the wall panelling of the later hotel interior has been retained and painted.
Much of the interior painting uses special mixtures of pigment and sophisticated painting techniques, including Trompe-l'œil. Caruso St John designed the built-in furniture and the beds and bedroom cupboards, which were inspired by painted furniture made by farmers, as found in many parts of Switzerland.
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John, Michael Schneider
Philipp Boenigk, Kristina Grigorjeva, Christine Kaufmann, Florian Zierer
Ferrari Gartmann AG
Aldo Weibel AG
WT Partner AG
Fontana Fontana AG , Werkstätten für Malerei
Carpentry and interior finishes
B4 Moebel GmbH