This Private Swiss Mountain Escape is the Home of Peaceful Autonomy

The snowy mountains of Switzerland beckon innovation in modern refuge. Contemporary architectural home Wonhaus Bern – designed by Tormen Architekten – is just the kind of innovation that’s required. Contrasting against its surroundings, the house glows with internal warmth.

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Lead designer Reto Tormen chose a three storey-structure which comprises of a basement as an entrance area, a ground floor as a living area and a top floor as a private retreat. The home makes optimal use of its hillside plot, with a focus on simplicity and peaceful autonomy. Its panoramic windows allow the inhabitant to be fully embraced by the scenic landscape of the Jura.

We enjoyed a coffee with Reto to learn more about Wonhaus Bern and his approach to design.

The Plus: What were your initial aims in designing this structure?
Reto Tormen:
The initial aim was to create a sculptural building structure that merges into its surroundings. The existing typology is taken in by creating three separately arranged floor levels that are subsequently connected. This alignment was inspired by the sloping hillside the building is embedded into. As a result, a synergy is achieved between the building and its surroundings. The alignment of the building with a northern slope direction captures the wonderful panoramic view of the entire Jura mountain range.

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TP: Tell us about the interesting effect created by the overlapping strips of metal alongside the floating staircase.
RT:
The sides of the staircase are considered to be a design element. Depended on the viewing angle and distance, it simultaneously appears to be open and closed. This element was designed to be a dynamic contrast to the clear structured building. Because of the different spacing and angularity of the metal strips an ever-changing visual effect was created. A type of permeable partition. A specific repetition of this design element can be found throughout the building; at the stairs, on the terraces and at the poolside lounge area.

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TP: What atmosphere did you want to create in this house, and how did you achieve this?
RT:
The building should convey a certain freedom, openness, permeability and well-being and yet be clearly structured. Purposefully aligned floor levels connect the interior area with the exterior area. The omnipresent floor to ceiling high windows create wonderful views and light-flooded rooms. An important subject was privacy and the possibility to withdraw in more private areas. The building focusses on the plot’s interior.

This private and secluded part of the building holds the lounge area and gives access to the infinity pool. The private rooms are located on the ground and first floor. Also on the ground floor is the spacious living area with panoramic windows that capture the evening sun. This open plan living area is divided by the floating staircase into a living area and a dining area with kitchen.

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TP: Which materials did you choose to use for the outside of this house, and why?
RT:
The facade consists of a back-vented system by Fundermax. We have had very good previous experiences with this material. These large-format, subtle but extremely robust plates are exactly tailored to our wishes and fit very well with the architectural and design language. The mild colour of the beige-bronze facade gives the building a striking appearance while also simultaneously making it fit perfectly into its environment.

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TP: What is your favourite detail of this project?
RT:
That has to be the infinity pool with its sharp and elegant board marked concrete edges, which gives the pool the illusion to disappear seamlessly into the horizon.

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TP: With any project, what are your primary goals?
RT:
The focus of our work is to create clear and to their essentials reduced lines and cubic forms, aesthetic and modern projects with very high design and quality standards.

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Photos: Mark Drotsky Architekturfotografie