Dec 25, 2009

Villa Vals - SeARCH + CMA

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Shouldn’t it be possible to conceal a house in an Alpine slope while still exploiting the wonderful views and allowing light to enter the building?

Surprised that it was permissible to construct a pair of dwellings so close to the world famous thermal bath of Vals, the client seized the opportunity to develop the site, without disturbing the bath’s expansive views. The introduction of a central patio into the steep incline creates a large façade with considerable potential for window openings. The viewing angle from the building is slightly inclined, giving an even more dramatic view of the strikingly beautiful mountains on the opposite side of the narrow valley. (to find out more..)

Lovely! A courtyard created by subtraction of mass that also feels like an additional balcony or deck. Rarely a space feels so private and public at the same time. Perhaps all these issues don't matter anymore when you're talking about being embraced by the spectacular sceneries in an Alpine valley.

Underground bunkers are typically nerve wrecking thanks to extreme strength and claustrophobic solidity of the walls. Villa Vals is a bunker punctured all over; ample warm daylight and cool Alpine breeze floods through cracks and openings into every corner of the rooms. After all this could had been the kind of scenario soldiers at war would emotionally wish for.

Not just quality, the rich variety of spatial experiences is also evident from the pictures, which is the nicest thing to me. Underground architectures in such setting, like Villa Vals and Zumthor's Thermal Vals (a stones throw away), not only enable people to fully enjoy the breath-taking views, but also accentuate the existence and experience of what we often don't feel yet always present before our eyes - the incredibly gigantic rock mass of the mountains. It's always better to look below the surface.


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