Conversion Grieder Swarovski House in Küsnacht. The residence in Küsnacht near Zurich is a late work of the Swiss architect Theodor Laubi, built in 1956 on a plot of land with an ample garden and flanked by a forest. After several changes of owners and their corresponding conversions and extensions the house had lost its original modernistic character. In 2005 the residence was fortunately taken over by new owners (a young couple – a gallery owner and an artist) who recognised the potential of the house. The opening of a gallery for contemporary art in the ground floor not only revitalised the house but also transformed it into a partial, semi-public building that profited the whole surrounding residential area. This functional reorientation and the shift in the spatial program added an additional dimension to the house – an exciting hybridism and the opportunity to reinterpret many of the rooms. This particularly applies to the art gallery, which rather than presenting itself as a “White Cube” is a salon for contemporary art that consciously and gracefully coquets with the domestic homeliness of its surroundings. The aim of the conversion undertaken by Fuhrimann Hächler Architects was to not merely restore the original character of the house, but to amplify and even accentuate the rudimentary remanents of the original architecture in order to heighten their contemporary relevance and to anchor the architecture in the present-day. Particularly the encrustations on elements such as the curved staircase or the concrete slats, which once denoted the somewhat more liberated architectural language of Brazilian Modernism, were peeled away to reveal the hidden qualities in their original lustre. A typical characteristic of South American Modern architecture of the 1950s was the juxtaposition of individual freely rounded forms with the strict orthogonal geometry in the organisation of most of the floor plans. The design of the new built-in kitchen elements and furniture consciously adheres to this impulse in order to deepen these tensions and contrasts.

Project: AFGH, project leader: Carlo Fumarola, photos: Valentin Jeck