Located in a hamlet zone in a mainly agricultural setting, in Reppischtal, Zurich Switzerland, this house, designed by Boris Egli, BE ARCHITEKTUR, honors the area’s historical context and rural scenery.
The area is a characteristic hamlet zone of around 15 buildings. For its design, Boris Egli took up the typical barn characteristics and reinterpreted them in a modern way.
The Residential Barn in a Hamlet Zone project has been awarded a 2023 Future House Award by Global Design News and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.
From a distance, the residence discreetly blends into its rustic surroundings. The exterior façade is clad in glazed spruce wood –the same type of timber used on traditional Swiss barns.
A pitched roof was designed in the same vein, with tile roofing typical to the local architecture.
Openable windows are concealed behind wooden shutters, while the generous fixed glazing is fronted by wooden sliding doors that provide sun protection, darkening, and privacy.
A raw steel beam serves as a gutter, jutting out beyond the base of the roof. Downpipes were omitted; the rainwater drains off the side like a waterfall.
The building responds to the topography of the site. Building on a slope usually requires excavation behind the building and backfilling in front; this approach was deliberately rejected. Instead, the ground floor is arranged in a series of levels at different heights to follow the existing slope.
A barn is typically used for storage and as a workroom for agricultural production. Although this new building is not a depository, its rooms – bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, etc. – are “stored” within it as closed volumes and are figuratively stacked on top of one another.
This “stacking” creates a sculptural interior, a positive spatial volume within the building. A negative volume forms around these stacks, comprising a landscape of open living spaces that are interconnected vertically and horizontally. A generous interior unfolds with a sense of endless expanse.
The new building reinterprets the simple, unadorned nature of a traditional barn through its choice of materials.
Exposed concrete slabs for the floor and a special plaster covering the walls ensure a raw, unfinished feel. Two different materials with a similar effect –concrete and plaster– are used throughout the interior to achieve an expressive effect.
The freestanding two-car garage in exposed concrete was created using the same timber formwork as that used for the house façade.
A photovoltaic system was installed on the gently sloping concrete gable roof, the solar panels covering the surface like a carpet.
This new home aims with its design to enter into a dialogue with the surrounding agricultural buildings for a unique interpretation of the vernacular barn typology.
Project: Residential Barn in a Hamlet Zone
Architects: BE ARCHITEKTUR GMBH
Lead Architect: Boris Egli
Photographers: Vito Stallone