A house for Art / Luca Selva Architects

Architects: Luca Selva Architects
Location: Binningen,
Project year: 2008
Collaborators: Barbara Andres, Roger Braccini
Site Manager: Sabin Achermann
Landscape Architects: August Künzel Landschaftsarchitekten, Basel
Structural Engineer: Walther Mory Maier, Basel
Photographs: Ruedi Walti

There are houses that become houses devoted to art over time by the gradual addition of artwork. Others, like the house in Binningen, were built to be a house for art from the beginning. This is reflected in the traffic pattern as well as in the sequence and size of the main rooms, the position and finish of the windows and the conservative and unitary materialization. The ground floor flooring gives the impression that it has existed since the beginning of time. It consists of a stomped clay floor, made by Martin Rauch. It is the colour of honey and it has countless crazes and a velvety touch despite its hardness. The floor leads the visitors from the entrée through the corridor to the entrance hall, which are squired by large-sized photographs by contemporary artists and include rare and aged cactuses and various delicate antique physiques. This archaic floor contrasts strongly with the slender and precise aluminium frames of the sliding glass doors which constrict the passage from the hall to the living room, opening it up towards the garden and the covered seating area. This is where the interpenetration of indoors and outdoors is strongest. The angular floorplan repeatedly allows simultaneous views of interior and exterior surfaces which are both kept in the same bright white to enhance the visual continuity of ceiling and walls.

The groundfloor’s flowing sequence of spaces is perfectly suited for the successive viewing of the works of art. The rooms differ in ceiling height and lighting. The windows are placed carefully, respecting quality of the daylight as well as the views they frame. The high set window in the hall focuses on the ample treetops of the neighbouring plot, while the living room window offers a surprising view of the distant city of Basel. Only now does the visitor notice how precisely and with how much of a dramaturgical thought the house is placed, also how skillfully its polymorphic volume uses the various qualities of the site. The back side traces the boundary while the garden side’s focal point is set on the pool. The edges of the latter are designed as benches reinforcing its physical presence. The pool becomes an object set in the garden, surrounded by orange Tartan flooring that strongly contrasts with the garden’s vegetation.

Indoors, the flush mounted windows dialogue in a similar way with the images. Since the embrasure is nearly invisible, the environment seems to suddenly invade the room. The windows act as autonomous images rather than as a separation between indoors and outdoors. The entire house has an object-like appearance, mostly due to its colour. In some places the facade’s white stucco lustro is smoothed, in others it is left open-pored. This creates a variety of different shades, all similar but never quite the same.

The balanced composition evokes Alvaro Siza’s work and due to its central hall it is reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche. The house in Binningen does not limit itself to providing a neutral background for art. It takes an active part, including residents and guests in the conversation.

Cite: "A house for Art / Luca Selva Architects" 08 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=21447>
  • Jeison


  • christos

    excellent, plain, white, primitive, practical architecture. houses should be desing with plain white surfaces… no mess around with all kinds of different useless building materials just to satisfy somebody’s ego!!

  • Fino

    I would hate to clean some of these houses that AD have been featuring lately. haha

    that is all

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  • bungalabungala

    terrible, and i hope what you say crhistos, is not true, houses shoudl be designed wiht plain white surfaces? what decade are you living in? i am tired of all of these houses, which have no meaning whatsoever

  • http://www.talkitect.com Lucas Gray

    This house just isn’t that special. What makes this unique or noteworthy? Plain white washed walls are a dime a dozen. That cantilever is bulky and unelegant and the form is just bland.

  • jan

    very right form, very beautiful house. The plain white is good. The cantilever is a bit naive, but it corresponds to the form of a toy

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  • sirisha bysani

    great building, but i feel some color to be added to make it more beautiful.

  • tm

    not bad, but some of the windows could have found better places/proportions to land on

    that said , and knowing how hard is to DO smthg of value, I wish them good luck and much fun

  • ariana roberts

    this is a repetitive theme,white walls