Illustration: Mathias Forbach
Text description provided by the architects. MOKA is a renovation project of a little chalet in Yvonand, a touristic village on the south shore of the lake of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The area is very natural and intensively wooded, inhabited by approximatively 3’000 people. While in summer the wild beaches become crowdy and the sun brings life to this tiny place, in winter everything gets darker and mystic. The fog and the cold humid wind alternate to create a less comfortable environment and exposes the constructions to difficult conditions.
When the client came to us, he wanted a solution that allow him to spend warmer winters at home. The house was cold, humid and air flows were disturbing.
What we did was to simply strip the house to the wooden structure of the facades and prepare a new insulated skin. The roof was also entirely redone.
The deterioration of the old construction was clear as we deconstructed the facades. The wooden timber was in ugly conditions so our intervention had to pass, in first place, by an action of reparation and reconstruction of the structural elements. Once we secured the body of the house, we worked on the insulation and on water proofing the house.
We chose to use very thin (4x4cm) wood elements for the cladding of the facade, they were placed vertically and with a distance of one centimeter between them. By repeating this solution all along the four facades we obtained a vibrating texture and, most of all, unity, which we thought fundamental on a so little building.
In opposition, and to frame these surfaces, we worked with the geometry of the new roof gutter. We covered it with a flat element made of copper. This element was big enough to cover all the new 20cm insulation of the roof and contributed, by being the sole part of the roof visible, to simplify and make the overall presence of the chalet easier to read.
The copper element, large and flat, contributes to the equilibrium of the project. We like the interaction of this smooth metal element with the rough surfaces of the facades. As this project didn't offer the economic margin for big architectural gestures, we focused on materials and details and on the global atmosphere that we could create by working on them.
The original building had a wooden pergola on it's south sunny side. Covered by a grapevine, it offered a protected space where the owner could spend summer moments with friends, a nice place for chilling and dine in good company.
With the new project we had to think of a new pergola able to offer a similar atmosphere. Made of a light steel frame, the new structure works as just a skeleton for the trees. It is able to disappear as the grapevine climbs on it and, placed on a swept concrete surface, offers a beautiful shady place to continuing enjoying the beautiful natural environment.