A Renovated Pagan House in the Swiss Alps Puts Guests in Touch With the Past

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
A sprinkling of modernity resurrects an exquisite medieval alpine home.

A Heidenhaus, also known in Switzerland as a "pagan house," was a type of residence that existed in parts of the country during medieval times. Built around the 1500s, such homes usually consisted of a base of stone, a residential floor, a loft floor, a cross motif on the facade, and threadbare interiors.

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The region of Goms in southern Switzerland is one of the few places where such historical houses can still be found. One of the oldest is Hüs üf der Flüe in the village of Ernen, where the Heidenkreuz—a hollowed out cross detail on the facade of the house—can still be seen. 

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Built around 1453, Hüs üf der Flüe was carefully renovated by Swiss art and cultural curator Diana Pavlicek in 2016 and transformed into a pair of three-and-a-half-bedroom holiday apartments, one on the ground level and another on the upper level. The apartments are available to rent through Urlaubsarchitektur.

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With great respect for the house’s heritage, Pavlicek preserved much of the original structure and details, reusing and repurposing materials from the existing building wherever possible. 

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Old wood from the original house was used to make the kitchen and dining table, and antiques like a 1576 giltsteinofen—a soapstone stove—and a 1822 buffett were retained.  

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Modern plastic and wood side tables, industrial pendant lamps, contemporary Scandinavian-style dining chairs, and new bathroom and kitchen fixtures were introduced to update the interiors. 

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In Hüs üf der Flüe, the minimalist character of Gom’s medieval past is lightened by well-considered, contemporary materials and items. The result is a heritage holiday stay with a truly unique atmosphere.

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