The trick with the double use Villages in the Alpine Region are threatened with being turned into ghost towns. This is being caused by a number of factors. The present building stock has a large portion of second homes which is hardly being used. The amenities offered do not live up to modern standards and there is preciously little room to build new houses. A project by Christian Müller in the Swiss village of Vella is a showcase of how this development can be countered with innovative concepts.
The house called “Casa Sur Ual” is located centrally in the main area of the Val Lumnezia. It is constructed with solid timber logs notched at the corners. Surrounded by houses built of stone and elegant timber the 350 year old building is very much in harmony with its surrounding. The two new owners have approached Christian Müller with the challenges of dealing with historical structures. Good solutions of these problems so commonly encountered are notoriously hard to find. The approach should result in a balance of square meters, habitable spaces, room clearance with historical substance and finances as well as an ecologically convincing solution.
Contemporary agility The result resembles something of a three-dimensional puzzle. Both owners own a third of the building and share another third. It is like a scheme of “pay half, use two-thirds”. The children’s rooms, a sauna, spacious storage and attic rooms have been planned in the flexible third. The two apartments can also be opened up to each other and as such offer accommodations to a single group of up to fifteen people. The house can host grandparents, families and guests in different constellations and also be rented out as a vacation house.
The courage to apply innovative solutions Cabinet beds are interlaced with storage spaces in a playful fashion. A passageway may be two feet wide, another may well be 5 and a half foot high. Throughout there is comfort, consciousness of quality and respect for the traditional. The room for manoeuvring within the historical walls offers ample space of ideas for future uses. The Alpine regions are an important part of the Swiss landscape and the Swiss artful way of life. The flexible use of existing buildings not only reinforces the local economy can be, as this conversion proves, ecologically meaningful as well.