An Erratic Boulder: House at Lago Maggiore
Client: Fam. Jérôme + Paola de Meuron
Architects: Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architekten
Location: CH–6578 Caviano, Gambarogno, Tessin
Structural engineer: de Giorgi & Partners, 6600 Muralto
Completion: January 2015
Photos: Hannes Henz
First and foremost, it was building regulations such as the road line, forest clearance and the distance of the house to the architecture studio located next door that determined the pentagonal shape of this structure, which has a total area of a mere 79 m². These limitations developed into a polygonal house. The façade, whose rough-textured concrete surface will darken as it is exposed to the weather, gives the monolithic edifice an archaic look.
Approached from the mountain side, the house gives no hint of its unusual shape. It presents itself as a single-storey, completely enclosed volume accessible only via a large iron door. But the house looks entirely different from the valley side: here it looks like a narrow tower whose façade has been playfully enlivened with a number of square apertures.
A definite rectangle has been formed within the pentagonal plan: this is home to the heated living spaces distributed over three storeys. While the lowest floor accommodates the technical room and a workspace, the bedrooms and bathrooms are directly above. A central stairway, lit by skylight, leads up to the living and dining area at street level.
The living and sleeping areas have been given generous free space: this gives them their special atmosphere. The living room is sheltered from nosy glances by a front yard; to the valley side, it is delimited by an inner courtyard whose large, roofed-in window space opens onto a panorama of the mountains and lake. The planted areas to each side allow the living space to become a garden space where the play of light in various weather conditions is particularly memorable. In Caviano’s Casa Dem, the play of aperture and light, the adaptation of the building style to local topography and the deliberate use of materials all work together to create a harmonious whole.