in nidau, swiss architect jan kinsbergen realizes a residential concept that is at once simple and ambitious. the house stands as a contemporary revitalization of the modernist movement of the 20th century — expressing a thoughtful clarity through its materiality and organization. the zürich-based designer seeks to bring to life a reinterpretation of the unbuilt ‘fifty by fifty house’ project imagined by mies van der rohe in 1951. noting this influence, kinsbergen comments: ‘when I worked in new york, I used to visit the MoMA quite often. in the mies van der rohe exhibition, I discovered the model of the 50 x 50 house… four columns, a plate, a free space.’

jan kinsbergen nidau
images © georg aerni

architect jan kinsbergen interrupts the traditional residential fabric of the swiss town of nidau with his modernist revitalization. the designer continues: ‘since the prototype never got built, the concept intrigued me even more.’ the mies design was defined by an occupiable, central core enclosed by a 50 foot-square glass volume — its flat stacked roof elevated by only four columns located along the middle of each face. kinsbergen works within the compact site which offered a buildable area of 12.5 meters, just over 40 feet. the glass volume is elevated above a sunken drive, allowing access from below rather than from the ground level. although the footprint is minimized, the nidau house rises three levels, introducing an opportunity for dramatic, cantilevering balconies. 

jan kinsbergen nidaujan kinsbergen nidau jan kinsbergen nidau

project info:

project title: house in nidau

architecture: jan kinsbergen

location: nidau, switzerland

photography: georg aerni