An Outdated Swiss Chalet Is Treated to a Playful New Look

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Four sections, four levels, and four doors and windows enable this remodeled 1960s cabin to fully embrace its idyllic natural environment.

Swiss architecture studio Frundgallina has completed a full overhaul of a small, run-down chalet in the Swiss Jura Mountains and transformed it into a playful, off-grid home.

Because local regulations prohibit invasive construction within the site, the architects kept the exterior dimensions of the original structure intact, but took a revolutionary approach to the interior layout.

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The chalet is built entirely out of Jura forest Fir wood planks.

The chalet is built entirely out of Jura forest Fir wood planks.

To ensure all four sides of the house were positioned to take in views of the natural landscape, the team divided the interiors into four sections that were about 86 square feet each. The four sections were then set at various heights to guarantee easy access from outside. 

The roof is composed of a single sheet of folded stainless steel, and features a gutter on one side for rainwater harvesting.

The roof is composed of a single sheet of folded stainless steel, and features a gutter on one side for rainwater harvesting.

"This resulted in a rich, spatial variety achieved mostly by the change in floor-to-ceiling height. The effect is that of large steps turning around a central axis. Three of the four floors have two different levels creating a total of seven specific spaces," says Antonio Gallina, a founder of the firm.

A large pitched-top door, and a small pitched-top window are cut out from each of the four sides of the chalet’s exterior walls.

A large pitched-top door, and a small pitched-top window are cut out from each of the four sides of the chalet’s exterior walls.

The spatial variations created by the different heights results in a series of "rooms" connected to each other by small, medium, or large thresholds. This configuration allows for a fun, spiral stroll throughout the chalet. 

Cut out of the walls at different heights, these doors reveal the unusual and quirky interior arrangement of the chalet. 

Cut out of the walls at different heights, these doors reveal the unusual and quirky interior arrangement of the chalet. 

The team of architects have designed this off-the-grid chalet to be 100-percent energy efficient.

The gabled outline of the eight doors and windows give the impression of eight little houses cut out from the sides of the big house.

The gabled outline of the eight doors and windows give the impression of eight little houses cut out from the sides of the big house.

"This construction explores the different themes that characterize our architecture: simplicity and homogeneity of shapes, spatial richness and variety, uniformity and expressive singularity, as well as calmness, softness, and lightness emanating from formal composition," adds Gallina.  

The strategic positioning of doors and windows enable continuous views of the outdoors from within all areas inside.  

The strategic positioning of doors and windows enable continuous views of the outdoors from within all areas inside.  

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The four double doors swing open to become four entry and exit points. 

The four double doors swing open to become four entry and exit points. 

"Only the ridge of the two-sided roof directs the house. Otherwise, the chalet does not have a specific address or entrance; or rather, it benefits from four different ones. Accordingly, one enters and exits most of the rooms from and to the outdoors, integrating the pastures as a spatial sequence," says Gallina. 

"Only the ridge of the two-sided roof directs the house. Otherwise, the chalet does not have a specific address or entrance; or rather, it benefits from four different ones. Accordingly, one enters and exits most of the rooms from and to the outdoors, integrating the pastures as a spatial sequence," says Gallina. 

The planks are nailed vertically to the framework of the chalet, as well as its interior walls.

The planks are nailed vertically to the framework of the chalet, as well as its interior walls.

Grooved and ridged versions of the same type of Fir planks have been used to clad the joists to become the ceiling and the floors. 

Grooved and ridged versions of the same type of Fir planks have been used to clad the joists to become the ceiling and the floors. 

Here is a look at the sectional drawings of the eight sides.

Here is a look at the sectional drawings of the eight sides.

Project Credits:

Architecture and design: Frundgallina