It’s the time of year when many people are on vacation, perhaps in some snow-covered mountainous area like Gadastatt, near Leis, where Architect Peter Zumthor built three stunning wood chalets since 2009, two of which are for rent. The Unterhus and Türmlihus are built from solid wood.
The chalets are assembled using a modern version of strickbau, or “knitted construction”, which is why you see how Zumthor has rolled those beautiful finger joints at the corners.
Peter Zumthor writes:
Annalisa had always dreamed of living in a house built of wood. Whenever she talked to me about it, in my mind’s eye I saw an intimate home in the mountains. Clearly she was describing a very personal vision. Was she thinking of the way Swiss mountain pine smells, a crackling fire in the living room stove, the special warmth of wood?
I don’t recall exactly what she said but I still have the feeling that there was something special about the house she described, something you only find in houses made of solid timber.
The houses are furnished with the best designer furniture and lighting from Baltensweiler, Rodolfo Dordoni, Antonio Citterio, Warren Platner, Eero Saarinen, and Peter Zumthor. And of course, there is an espresso machine and a fondue set.
The clean modern masonry heater is quite lovely and simple. There does not appear to be any insulation other than that inherent in the wood; pine has an R value of about 1.5 per inch, giving the wall a R value of about R9, not very much really.
But it does sound like a lovely place to vacation:
In winter, the ski piste from Gadastatt down to the valley runs right past Leis and the vacation homes. During almost the entire winter season it is possible to begin skiing at one's doorstep in the morning and return on skis in the evening. From early summer well into the fall, the timber houses are the starting point for numerous beautiful hikes.
And why is this on TreeHugger? It is after all, an expensive vacation house without a lot of visible green features (although it does have chargers for electric cars)
Perhaps because Peter Zumthor has shown us a different way to work with wood, and such a wonderful description of its properties: “the solid timber has a tangible presence – soft and close to the body, it gleams gently and silkily in the light.”