Located in Montreux, Switzerland, this modern single family house was completely redesigned by Ralph Germann Architectes.

Description by Ralph Germann Architectes

Designed for construction workers of the railroad connecting Montreux to the Rochers-de-Naye, this modest house was built in 1911 with large stone blocks found in the ground dug for the rail. Constructed on a sloping hillside, lined with a terraced garden, it offers a breathtaking view of the Alps, Lake Geneva and the Riviera.

First tenant and later owner, architect Ralph Germann’s renovation of the building shows visible signs of the transformation on the external facades. Completely emptied, the building kept only from its original design the central staircase with its walnut and wrought iron fence. This cage that originally served three apartments was opened to link together all the floors of the house, now concentrated in a single entity.

To strengthen the link between the levels, the architect imagined an original solution. The load-bearing walls in the staircase were opened to insert concrete open elements, built on site from molds. Responding to demands of heat and sound insulation, the creation of these concrete openings proved to be a very effective solution. Heat, light and sound passes, allowing the family members to communicate from one floor to another. In addition, these cavities also serve as storage spaces.

The ground floor contains the living room and the kitchen, connected to the garden. The master bedroom is strategically located in the center of the house and the children occupy the top floor.

With its 80m2 size, the parental floor is a large open and multifunctional space. The architect does not like single-function spaces. His ideal home is open, with little furniture, with as few doors as possible and discreet built-in cupboards hidden in architectural volumes. The few indispensable sliding doors disappear between walls, leaving thus the space completely open.

Between the big bed that seems to float above a concrete bench and the open shower, a wood stove stands opposite a work plan on the ground. Barely separated by a thin wooden screen designed by the architect, a bathtub stands in the middle of the room, facing the window with a view overlooking the lake and the Alps.

On the ground floor, craftsmen built the 5m60 long concrete kitchen isle which seems to be suspended 8 cm above ground. Blocks for storage spaces and the appliances have been directly integrated into the large cube. The original windows, narrowed down to thin vertical openings show the beautiful surrounding landscape.

Photography by Lionel Henriod

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