K+N Residence / Valerio Olgiati

© Courtesy of

Architect: Valerio Olgiati
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Project Manager: Pascal Flammer
Construction Supervisor: Peter Diggelmann, Archobau AG, Chur
Structural Engineer: Patrick Gartmann, partner of Conzett, Bronzini, Gartmann AG, Chur
Project Area: 520 sqm
Project Year: 2003-2005
Photographs: Courtesy of Valerio Olgiati

ground floor plan

An unpretentious entrance, then a strangely self-contained, dimly lit, winding corridor that leads down a flight of steps as if we were descending into a cave. But then we open a door —and are left speechless. The square room that we now enter is spacious and light. Four large, rectangular windows, all of the same size, open onto views of four different “pictures” and transform the living room of the house into a kind of pavilion, open to all sides —an impression that is made all the stronger when, in fine weather, the windows are sunk into the ground and the four winds waft through the room.

© Courtesy of Valerio Olgiati

But the living room does not consist solely of walls with large window openings. One corner of the square is occupied by an opaque volume, and the rectangular flight of steps is wrapped around another. Thus the walls do not make a fragile impression like surfaces folded into right angles; rather, the room seems to be part of an organism that constitutes the whole. It is this dimension that gives the building ist strength, its almost excessive impact, and it is from this that everything else ensues. The building is not put together, it is a spatial shell.

first floor plan
© Courtesy of Valerio Olgiati

Each room, no matter how small, is complete in itself. All the reinforced interior walls are of equal thickness. Furthermore, constructed of the same light-coloured, exposed that gives the building its monochrome unity. The house definitely does not belong to the world of vertebrates, but to the realm of the crustaceans.

© Courtesy of Valerio Olgiati

The volume and compactness of the building is impressive, as are the atmospheric contrast and lighting effects and the different characters of the main rooms. But the contrasts, far from leading to a fragmentation of the whole, reinforce it and give it the character of a real organism.

Cite: "K+N Residence / Valerio Olgiati" 28 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=61790>
  • EPLE.

    Nice, but if someone from ArchDaily made up the text for this article they should be shot. Including the ‘-isms’ and confusing oneself does not make the author more of a genius, it just serves to confuse the reader.

    Olgiati’s calm and controlled design is great though.

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    But… what is this house from outside?… How it built in landscape?

  • Anna

    Can’t it be photographed from far away?

  • dados

    “unpretentious” is probably the most pretentious word I know of.

  • Leonardo Ximenes

    The guy who wrote this description is the one who “definitely does not belong to the world of vertebrates, but to the realm of the crustaceans”.

  • P

    Nice but sad space. Paint it and you spoil it.

  • Rick S.

    “Each room, no matter how small, is complete in itself.” Good, no half-rooms to worry about… I’m always afraid of those. And those vertebrate houses too. They give me the creeps.

  • Bruce

    Obviously English is not the first language, nor maybe the second, of the individual charged with writing the narrative, but I am not impressed with what little is shown of the building either. Some rooms are poorly proportioned, some simply waste too much space, some just don’t make sense.

  • josephiklein.com

    a poor man in a grand Castle . I LOVE IT. its wonderfully new well adjusted writer guy is flipping i should have just made a cat face out of font kinda of like this sword /==/=====>

  • ivo

    hey Leo, I think that the ” house ” is horrible, but its a matter of taste, lets be respectful … at least or at last

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