The Swiss chalet, now a byword for European luxury, had humble origins.
Hundreds of years ago, these alpine structures were seasonal shelter for herders. Farmers would live in the chalets when they brought their cattle to higher altitudes to graze on fresh pastures. The chalet was part seasonal residence, part dairy farm. Its architecture features a gently sloping roof and muscular wooden beams to support eaves at the house's front and back. However, much like barns in Western Europe, this once agrarian structure has been appropriated as a luxury residence. It's an architectural typology all to itself, one that's continued to manifest in the designs we've collected below.
With an all-wooden exterior and interior, this house clearly emulates the material palette found in a classic chalet. However, its alternating bands of dark and white on the exterior are a stylistic hint towards its modern provenance. The interior design plays a similar game, with traditional exposed beams but clean modern lines.
The architects eschewed the familiar chalet format to make full use of the mountainous terrain and the views it affords. A two-story height limit forced the structure to expand outwards on the second floor, with a kitchen/dining space on one end, bedroom/bathroom in the middle, and a large outdoor living space (seen above).
Though this house adopts the boxy volume and a sloping roof of the chalet, it simplifies its appearance by removing the eaves. The result is a simple, monolithic wooden structure. This monolithic quality is further accentuated by shutters that, when closed, match the exterior and create a continuous surface treatment.
Limited to a single floor by zoning regulations, this house fully embraces the contours of the landscape. The design also employs modern construction materials in the form of concrete walls, exposed on the interior and exterior, and punctuated by broad windows and oculi.
In contrast to the previous designs, these architects wholly embraced the traditional architectural details of the Swiss chalet. Intricate wooden ornamentation encrusts the exterior and bulky exposed beams support sheltering eaves. However, the interior is wholly contemporary, with a sumptuous living room, walk-in wine cellar, and spa-like bathrooms, among other features.
This house has one foot in the past and one in the present: a traditional wooden-shingle exterior and modest eaves contrast against a concrete base and a fully glazed second floor wall. It's concrete base is hidden from the road, meaning its modern identity is partially conceived until one enters to see the white walls and open space of its interior.