within the tourist resort of haute-nendaz, in switzerland, lionel ballmer has built a small wooden house and its workshop, amid the aged trees that were planted by the clients’ ancestors. the exiguity of the plot sculpts the volumetry of the house which takes shape as a simple monolith covered in local rough larch strip cladding. the structure enjoys a warm natural look and an intimate character, while blending harmoniously with the vegetal surroundings.
all images courtesy of julie masson
outside, lionel ballmer divided the plot into two parts, in order to generate an intimate central garden, which is seemingly cut off from its surroundings but still in close proximity to the nearby chalet and summer camp building. inside the house, a central staircase acts as the backbone of the project, serving five half-levels, each composed of two distinct spaces. the common areas occupy the lower floors, while the more private rooms are set on the upper levels. this interior maze opens onto a succession of ‘small worlds’, thus creating the impression of living in a place that is larger than it actually is.
from a construction standpoint, the entire skeleton – interior partitions, perimeter walls, slabs, roofing, and furniture – is composed of cross-laminated timber (CLT) made of locally sourced spruce. meanwhile, prefabricated wood panels cover the entire house. the homogeneity in the materials used is a tribute to ancient mountain buildings. it creates a strong contrast with the outside vegetation while also providing visual relief from the succession of small spaces. technically, the heating and hot water are produced by a pellet boiler. radiators placed under the furniture distribute the heat evenly in each room. a wood stove in the living room can take over the heat production from the boiler in winter. in summer, the trees bordering the plot create large areas of shade that help keep the building cool during seasonal heatwaves.
name: the small house in nendaz, switzerland
architect: lionel ballmer
location: haute-nendaz, switzerland
edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom
designboom | architecture & design magazine