Shelter For Roman Ruins by Peter Zumthor

Shelter For Roman Ruins by Peter Zumthor




Shelter For Roman Ruins by Peter Zumthor located in Chur, Switzerland | The Hardt


Shelter For Roman Ruins by Peter Zumthor located in Chur, Switzerland. Peter Zumthor is a Swiss architect I put right up there with Tadao Ando as my all time favorite. Mr. Zumthor is responsible for designing a piece of architecture so stunning, it made me rethink the entire concept of what a building actually is, from a very rudimentary basis. The building is the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria by Peter Zumthor. I’ll do a post here and a full post on the site this week. But I digress, one of the first big projects for the 2009 Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor was this protective pavilion built to cover the remains of two Roman buildings. Built in 1985-86 and located in the capital of the Swiss canton of Graubünden.       




Chur is no less than the oldest town in Switzerland: the first settlements found at the site date to 3.500BC. In 15BC the Roman Empire conquered the village and designated Chur (Curia Raetorum) to be the capital of their new funded Roman province of Curia – hence the name Chur.  In those days the location at the right shore of the Rhine River was a strategic crossroad where several of the major Alpine transit routes came together before continuing down river. The Romans inhabited the area that is nowadays called Welschdörfli, just off the historic town center of Chur. In modern days archaeological excavations uncovered a complete Roman quarter. The authorities decided to preserve the excavations and to open them for public exhibition. Local Swiss architect Peter Zumthor was chosen as responsible for the design.



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Australia House (2012) by Andrew Burns Architect

Australia House (2012) by Andrew Burns Architect

Australia House (2012) by Andrew Burns Architect located in Urada, Niigata, Japan | The Hardt


Australia House (2012) by Andrew Burns Architect located in Urada, Niigata, Japan. The project was initiated following the collapse of the original Australia House (a 100-year-old Japanese farmhouse). It is essentially a disaster recovery project, but of a cultural type. The structure has been overdesigned so it can function as a refuge during future disasters.

Less than one year from the announcement of a competition to completion of construction. This required fantastic groundwork from the Australian Embassy, Tokyo, and rapid construction by the local contractors, Iizuka Constructions and Onojeima Constructions. Simple clear geometry that creates possibilities, rather shutting them down through excessive architectural authorship… The main gallery focusses on the embankment, rather than the dramatic valley view. In this way the embankment, tilted up, becomes the third wall of the gallery, creating opportunities for artists and curators to engage with the landscape.




By focussing on an ordinary view, rather than an extraordinary view, it seeks to remind us of the value of ordinary, local things, post GFC and post great east Japan Earthquake. A unique collaboration between artist and architect to embed a permanent work within the gallery. The work can be concealed by a large cedar clad panel. It is my hope that a new permanent work will be embedded in the gallery space at each Triennale, so in 15 years time you could walk into the space and reveal 6 compelling permanent works.



The design resonates with the many utilitarian structures in the region, a steep roof, direct expression and located close to the road so as to be easy to access during snowfall. I did not so much as reference these buildings when I was designing it, but followed the same basic logic that they follow. The steeply pitched roof form rises to the daikoku-bashira (king post), creating a tall gallery space within a compact volume. Despite its size (120 sqm), this building conveys an institutional quality, although it also has the ambiguous presence of a rural structure and an art object.


© Brett Boardman




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Villa Criss Cross Envelope (2015) by OFIS Architects

Villa Criss Cross Envelope (2015) by OFIS Architects

Villa Criss Cross Envelope (2015) by OFIS Architects located in Ljubljana, Slovenia | The Hardt


Villa Criss Cross Envelope (2015) by OFIS Architects located in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The Villa is located in the Mirje Suburbs within the city center of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The street of the villa runs perpendicular to the ancient Roman Wall and continues into a pedestrian passageway under the stone pyramid designed by Plecnik (as part his reconstruction project along the wall). The Villa’s new structure embeds an existing retaining wall along the street front. By incorporating the wall as part of the new construction, the new house keeps original position on this street in an axial alignment to the pyramid.



The external structure is composed of a cube volume and perforated metal envelope. The volume extracts cut-outs to create pockets of space that provide a pyramidical stepping down along the roof, avoid along the entrance and private glass patios with terraces for living areas of the house. Using a material with holes on both sides aims to make an abstract interpretation of the texture of classical villas in the historical suburb. The rough classical façade was represented with double perforated panels; the task was to achieve texture through the illusion of depth which allows a light presence and enhances the shadows and reflections of a palette of beige tints. The three-dimensional texture creates a dynamic abstraction while encapsulating its coherent volume. Diagonal crosses act as a functional and graphic representation. The crosses brace the frames of panels and create identity like façade ornaments on historical citizen villas.



The internal volume embodies two elements: exposed structural concrete walls and a wooden shell. The project required a residence for a single family with three children. The brief was to maximize the living area with a minimum of the service space. The concept divides space based on a distinct program by separating function not by walls but floor levels: the ground floor is living/communal space, the first floor is children area and second-floor parents area. With no cellar, the shell is integral to provide all of the space for storage. The flush walls fold out to house cupboards, shelves, and drawers throughout the living areas and furniture such as beds, seating and counters are built into the floor in order to optimize space and provide easy maintenance. This connects different spaces in the house by giving a common function to partitions.



© Tomaz Gregoric 




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Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects

Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects

Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects located in Toyo kawa, Japan | The Hardt



Light Walls House (2013) by mA-style Architects located in Toyo kawa, Japan. The site is in a shady location where a two-story neighboring house closely stands on the south side, and even the shade and shadow on the path intensify the impression of darkness. Therefore, the design intended to create a space with uniformly distributed light by adjusting the way of letting daylight in, and the way of directing the light. By taking into consideration the space for the residents, the functions for a living, and the relationship with the surrounding environment, the creation of a diversity and richness in the house were intended by controlling the concept of light.



Along the edges of the 9.1m square roof, skylights are made, as if creating an outline, in order to provide sunlight. The roof beams narrow the sunlight, and the slightly angled clapboard interior walls with laminated wood reflect and diffuse the light. As a result, soft and uniformly distributed light is created and surrounds the entire space. Along the outline of lighting, workspaces such as a kitchen, bathroom, and study are arranged. Private spaces such as bedrooms and storage are allocated into four boxes. The path-like spaces created between them are public spaces. Each box attempts to balance within a large spatial volume. Light coupled with the rhythm of scale raises the possibilities of the living space for the residents.




Considering each box as a house, the empty spaces in between can be seen as paths or plazas, and remind us of a small town enclosed in the light. The empty spaces, which cause shortening or elongating of distances between people, are intermediate spaces for the residents, as well as intermediate spaces that are connected to the outside when the corridor is open, and these are the image of a social structure that includes a variety of individuals. In terms of a natural component, in which light is softened by small manipulations, and of a social component, in which a town is created in the house, this house turned out to be a courtyard house of light where new values are discovered.


© Kai Nakamura



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Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson located in Finger Lakes, NY | The Hardt


Combs Point Residence by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson located in Finger Lakes, NY. This property had a wildness that captured the client’s interest immediately. They understood the raw beauty of Seneca Lake when they began looking for a site on the exposed eastern shoreline. A hunting lodge once sat on the site, but burned to the ground many years ago. It wasn’t until they hiked upstream, into the 100-plus acre property’s deep cut ravine that they found a waterfall, hidden within the site’s botanically diverse plant palette. It was the site’s inherent drama and ephemeral delicacy that bound the owners to this place and ultimately defined the design direction for the house and landscape.

Project Program


The project scope included a four-season weekend retreat for a family of four that supported their active life on the lake and love of the out-of-doors. In addition to three bedrooms for the main house, the architect was asked to create areas for office, exercise, and guests, in addition to a boathouse and garage. From the beginning, the Landscape Architect (LA) worked closely with the design team towards a strategy that would repair and enhance the site’s ecological function.

Site Planning


The design decision to break the program down into separate but connected structures came from the need to respond to the narrow site, the solar orientation, and the disturbed area of the old hunting lodge. The extrusion of the parts along a line of circulation, the site’s outdoor hallway, created opportunities for outdoor rooms formed by the interplay of existing trees and the framing of the space by the building walls.



The design resolution locates the primary family room on the point, like a boat, with its prow forward, exposed, and open to the drama of the seasons and the prevailing eastern winds at the water’s edge. The more private rooms of the house gather behind this front room and are more protected, nestled in the ravine. A bridge for pedestrians and the family’s all-terrain vehicle spans the creek and connects the main house to the boathouse, which sits at the water’s edge. Further still is a three-car garage on the bluff above the main building site. All cars remain high on the bluff at the garage, thereby limiting the primary circulation around the house to foot-traffic.

Landscape Strategy


The LA, the architect, and the client agreed that the site’s inherent natural beauty and ecological diversity needed to be prioritized over all other site decisions. The client stressed the desire to be responsible ecological stewards so grading was minimized to pathways and roads and the diverse plant palette carefully edited to allow the house to slip into the existing landscape.



The charge of making the site appear untouched was far more difficult to achieve than it might seem. The LA began with a comprehensive survey of the existing plants and determined that the diversity of the herbaceous groundcover was both remarkable and unusual, even in the Finger Lakes. The LA, with a staff trained in landscape architecture, arboriculture and horticulture, determined that the project sat within four existing ecological communities: Dry Upland Forest, Moist Upland Forest, Floodplain Forest, and Seasonally Inundated Wetland. The project planting plan mixed these communities into five planting zones (See Planting Zones Diagram). The plant list is composed of plants that fall within a mix of vegetation communities (See Plant List).



Plant groupings within each zone reflect variations in elevation, slope, and aspect. The most interesting lesson learned was that the shale soils change pH radically as they degrade. The tops of the relatively shallow ravine have much lower pH than the bottom. The result is extreme diversity in a small area because of the dramatic changes in soil pH, light, and weather (Seneca Lake’s deep waters moderate the temperatures on the site, so it can be snowing at the garage when there is no snow at the main house). There was not an analog upon which to model this project. Finding the appropriate plant material in nurseries proved challenging and it was difficult to find trees that blended seamlessly into the forest. The layout of the plants mimicked existing conditions so that the plants looked to be the result natural propagation in the microenvironments where they occur naturally. The careful culling or retention of existing material was an integral part of the project. Three years later, the site is healthier than ever, with bursts of trout lilies, trillium, and ferns in the early spring.

Site Forces


This is a highly volatile site and the weather extremes are felt throughout the seasons. The builder and the LA discussed in detail site drainage and water flow to save existing trees. The LA planted the slopes and pinned down dead trees to provide slope and wind erosion control during seasonal storms and to trap organic material so seedlings could grow rather than wash out. Vegetation grows easily in the fertile soils of the flatland with its high water table at 18” deep. The stream run can be violent in the spring and after heavy rains, with water elevation changing from flood stage to nearly dry throughout the year. Rather than guarding against these conditions, the design team saw these ephemeral shifts as an essential part of the experience of the place.



During the two-year planting process, it became apparent that a traditional approach to landscape management would not work. The LA wrote a meadow management plan for the different meadow areas but the plantings would require constant editing by someone who understood the plants over time and could choose which volunteers to keep and which to pull. The LA and client searched for the right person and found a botanist from Cornell University, who became so attached to the property that he now serves as a consultant that supervises the on-going site work. His discovery of a threatened New York State species on-site, Agastache nepetoides- Yellow Giant Hyssop, deepened his commitment to the place.

Materials and Site Details


All aspects of this project were carefully adapted to the site and considered for their regenerative results. The house design has a respectful relationship to the land and site, using sustainably harvested tropical wood for the boardwalk, a beach shale gravel path excavated from the shore edge of the site, New York granite paths, and beach shale splash blocks and drip lines. Through careful siting and thoughtful interplay of architectural elements, this project shows the result of a highly collaborative design process where the role of each discipline is blurred to create a simultaneously bold and ethereal composition, unique to its place and time.



Photos by Nic Lehoux



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Casa O by 01Arq.

Casa O by 01Arq.

Located in Colina, Chile, Casa O by 01Arq. | The Hardt


Located in Colina, Chile, Casa O by 01Arq. On the first floor, the house is buried creating a retaining wall to the south and west. This operation allows locating the parking lots next to a wide ramp that connects the street with the main entrance of the house. The first floor of the 3,500 ft² (325 m²) house contains maximum flexibility in living spaces; they can make up a single space when the sliding wall that separates the kitchen with the dining room is open. During the summer the glass facades are hidden behind concrete walls, transforming the living and dining rooms in a large covered terrace that joins the outdoor pool and garden.



Photos @ Aryeh Kornfeld / @ Mauricio Fuertes



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