Designed by Oliver Christen Architekten, the project involves the minimal conversion of a barn into a residential building in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Originally, the barns were used to store grain. The typology of their construction consists of a wooden block construction supported by stone columns atop a massive foundation. These buildings are typically stacked atop one another without vertical connections. The support structures are mainly covered with roughly rounded stone slabs. These so-called mice slabs prevented mice from entering the granary. The outdoor space located between the base and block buildings was originally unused, allowing a view through, and lying in the shadow of the building volumes.
By converting the barn into a residential building, its preservation could be assured. The barn was underpinned and the walls were glazed all around. The two-story building became a three-story residence. To maintain the shady and transparent atmosphere, the mezzanine floor was painted black. A dining table and kitchen are located on this floor, and the view provides new, unexpected visual references to the village.
While the plinth building continues to have a rather mural appearance and houses the access, wet rooms, and bedrooms, the living space in the block building appears spacious and is overheight. Through the modern conversion, the architects have given value to the traditional structures of the barn buildings and reinterpreted them. On the outside, the interventions appear unagitated and careful, and the barn blends naturally into the village.