adding a new chapter to the history of an 18-century farmhouse
on the southern edge of the hamlet tobler, in buechberg, switzerland, kit architects has given new life to an 18th-century traditional farmhouse. the team has completed the preservation, renovation, and annex replacement of the landmarked building, transforming it into two new residential units that meet today’s needs.
through the structure’s extensive 300-year history, all the owners and residents have left their own distinctive marks. therefore, it was with great curiosity that the kit team – together with the owner, local authorities, and other planners – dedicated themselves to this structure and its different layers. their goal was to preserve and show as much of the original substance as possible, while adapting the construction to the present day.
shed replacement building entrance
all images courtesy of kit architects
demolishing all unpreservable parts
the farmhouse originally boasted an attached barn that no longer exists, but whose previous volume and positioning served as a model for extending the house’s living area. the original log construction was in good condition, but the stable, which had served as a storage shed, was in disrepair and had to be demolished. likewise, the building’s western exterior wall, made up of matchboard, couldn’t be preserved because it had been badly damaged by woodworm, and dampness, combined with an incorrect load transfer which threatened to collapse part of it.the old structure also featured an outbuilding, which the zurich-based practice decided to demolish and replace it with a second residential unit that takes up the vocabulary of traditional design and connects seamlessly with the pre-existing structure.
renovation and annex replacement buildings
two new residential units
the previous barn served as a model to extend the building’s living area, creating a spatial interplay between the bedrooms which are located within the original log house construction, and the new area that takes advantage of barnlike high ceilings. the middle area has kept its functionality: housing the staircase, the entryway with a bathroom on the first floor, and a hallway, a dressing room, and a newly added bathroom on the second floor. this part of the building was also renovated and the first-floor ceiling was replaced with one made of solid wood because its load-bearing capacity was insufficient and sections of it showed signs of sagging.
the second residential unit, a new construction, has completely replaced the former shed, but its original slope has been kept. however, the eaves of the north façade were raised by around one meter to optimize room height, lighting, and the view of lake. during construction, a sand-blasted concrete wall was used to replace the previous quarry stone foundation, while the characteristic changes in level remain. the ground floor contains two bedrooms and a bathroom, the upper floor an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining room. the original log house wall remains unchanged and on display on one side of the shed.
vertical strip cladding in the style of traditional barns with sliding shutters
the new façade
the new façade was constructed with vertical strip cladding in the style of the traditional barns and stables in the hamlet. for shade and privacy, the windows can be covered with special wooden sliding shutters that evoke the original appearance of the farmhouse. consistent with the settlement development, projections and recesses divide the façade into a small number of larger panels. the façade of the original building has been left unchanged, except for the installation of the entrance door where a window used to be.
unit 1 | living room
unit 1 | vertical, panoramic window
unit 2 | old log house wall
unit 1 | hallway library
unit 1 | historic chamber in the renovated old house
unit 2 | living room
unit 2 | horizontal, panoramic window
name: house at the buechberg
designer: kit architects
location: amlet tobler, in buechberg, switzerland
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edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom