This Mobile Studio in the Swiss Alps Is an Artist's Dream Come True
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This Mobile Studio in the Swiss Alps Is an Artist's Dream Come True

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By Jen Woo
Clean lines and practical sustainability define this roving, multipurpose structure.

Although they're best known for their work with high-profile brands like The Row, Monique Lhuillier, and Nobu restaurants, Montalba Architects also has a knack for scaled-down spaces. The firm is based in Los Angeles, California, and Lausanne, Switzerland, and one of their latest projects is an interstitial art pavilion in Bex, Switzerland.

Custom-perforated Swisspearl anthracite panels—made of minerals, sand, and cement—allow light to flow into the pavilion.

Custom-perforated Swisspearl anthracite panels—made of minerals, sand, and cement—allow light to flow into the pavilion.

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Montalba Architects created the pavilion for the annual Bex & Arts sculpture triennial. For the past 32 years, the event has transformed Szilassy Park into an outdoor gallery with uninterrupted views of the surrounding Alps. The pavilion housed a digital fabrication studio, an exhibition space, a small bookstore, and a visitor center.

"The triennial focused on creative energy, strength, force of nature, war, dynamism of progress, technology, solar or wind energy, and sustainability," says founder David Montalba FAIA, SIA. "Invited artists seized this theme to speak to the world in which we live, and of both our use, and sometimes overuse, of energy." 

The interior of the pavilion is made from Kerto high-performance plywood panels.

The interior of the pavilion is made from Kerto high-performance plywood panels.

The bones of the 430-square-foot structure consist of shelves, framework, and cabinetry—with all materials, fabrication, and construction sourced locally. The lightweight structure is set on a movable, low-impact foundation, and it's designed to be easily disassembled and reused for future events.

All of the pavilion's furniture can be folded up for easy transportation.

All of the pavilion's furniture can be folded up for easy transportation.

The "skin" of the pavilion is made up of black vertical cement boards with custom perforations that allow light to enter the interior. "The contrast of the structure within the serene Swiss landscape is furthered through the contrasting palette of light plywood color and the pavilion’s saturated black perforated skin facade," explains Montalba. 

Montalba Architects selected Eternit Floor Intense Crystal 103 mineral flooring for its lightness, longevity, resistance to fire, and recyclability.

Montalba Architects selected Eternit Floor Intense Crystal 103 mineral flooring for its lightness, longevity, resistance to fire, and recyclability.

All of the pavilion's furniture is custom made out of the same wood as the rest of the structure. In line with the transportable nature of the project, each piece can be folded and stored within the structure. The pavilion is currently located in the Bex Salt mines, and it remains open to the public.

Related Reading: These Modern Artist Studios in the Connecticut Countryside Radiate Inspiration, This Tiny Studio Made of Reclaimed Wood Could Be Yours For $38K