House of the week: Trübel, Switzerland

Nick Myall
Friday 21 Aug 2015

The rooms of this remarkable dwelling revolve around the central wall, forming a spiral of interior space

One of the entries in this year’s WAN House of the Year Award, the designers of this house in Dielsdorf, Switzerland came up with a unique solution to a lack of available space. Dielsdorf is a small Swiss town northwest of Zurich. The area is dominated by agriculture and by mountains. Although a rural community, Dielsdorf is at the heart of Europe: by car, the centre of Zurich is less than 20 minutes away. No wonder that Dielsdorf has hardly any building land left. 

One small, steep plot had been vacant and for sale for years, however. Despite its idyllic situation as part of a former vineyard facing south, after complying with all the planning regulations, a buyer would be left with only 5 x 9 m on which to build. A house erected there would have a floor area of 83 m2 at best: a space that made construction financially unattractive. In short, the parcel was considered unfit for building. In an attempt to sell it anyway, the owner turned to L3P Architekten, a firm in nearby Regensberg. He figured the chances of selling the land would improve if there was already a house on it. And he was right. The current residents bought the house and the land, almost immediately after its completion.

Together with structural engineer Urs Oberli, the architects tailored their design to the brief of the original landowner. They excavated part of the mountain slope, inserted a carport and entrance area into the cavity, and opted for an efficient and highly compact skeleton: all choices that resulted in the greatest amount of living space possible. Inspired by the surrounding vineyards, architects and engineer developed a structure of black-painted reinforced concrete; its configuration evokes a grapevine. 

Step by step, the rooms of this remarkable dwelling revolve around the central wall, forming a spiral of interior space that covers an area of 129 m2. The arrangement is not like that of a conventional house, divided into separate floors. As they climb the stairs, the occupants can pretend to be Jack on his way up the beanstalk. Their beanstalk doesn’t reach high in the sky, though its apex is just under 12 m.

The WAN House of the Year Award 2015 is open to enter until 31st August.

Nick Myall

News Editor

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