New concrete cabin used old wood cabin as formwork for its facade

cabin in snow
© Gaudenz Danuser via Dezeen

They like things the way they are in the Swiss alps. There are lots of old cabins that were used by farmers, but the planning rules say that if you want to build, "the character of the persisting cabin" must be maintained and the footprint cannot be enlarged. Nickisch Sano Walder Architects followed the letter of the law and actually used the walls of the old wood cabin as formwork for this new solid concrete replacement. They also dig down and get a whole other level with a bedroom and bath in what Dezeen says was " the leftover cellar of the original cabin."

I should be jumping all over this for being a totally extravagant and ridiculous use of concrete when the traditional wood cabin can last for centuries and has a better insulation value. But there is something alluring about it.

And I cannot imagine having a bath in that concrete tub, you probably have to crack ice to get in (although I bet there is radiant heating or something down there). Designboom says that " the bedroom is well insulated by the thick concrete walls and enveloping earth" but there is likely something more.

It certainly is minimalist. The architects tell Dezeen that "Guests in Flims mostly spend their days in the surrounding nature – the cabin is used as a refuge, a resting and recreation place."

I am torn. When I started writing this post I thought it was a very well designed tiny space, and a very clever allusion to the former wood building with its use of the old structure as formwork for the new. But the more I look at it, the less sure I am about it, this is not a place of resting and recreation, though it may work as a refuge come the revolution. What do you think? (Lots more photos at Dezeen and Designboom)

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