gus wüstemann architects

Zürich | Since 1997 | Employees 5

The Glacier

Lucerne | Switzerland | Completed January 2005

start up

the client was the future tenant of this loft, which the owner could not rent to anybody for quite a while, manly because of the light situation. so the owner let the tenant choose his own architect to do the job and then he would sign a contract for 5 years.
one day the phone in my office rings and this person tells me that he saw my work on the internet, if I would be interested to design a loft for them!
(first time this happened to me out of the blue)
at the first design meeting kai and diana tell me, that they give me all the freedom, I should go ahead with the design with whatever would come into my mind in this place, I only had the budget given by the owner.
very exceptional!
the consequence was this project, the whole thing was finished on time and within the budget.

the design concept

the project was to design a new generous loft in the attic of the house at loewengraben 13 in the old town of Lucerne, Switzerland. the raw interior work was already finished. the challenge of the situation; a rather dark space, as there were only small roof windows, a skylight and a terrace with a great view on the top floor. the terrace was accessed by small stairs and the gallery floor blocked the light from entering the flat. the shape of the original space was a rectangle with the two long hard walls squashing the space.
our solution for this situation suggests two interventions to dissolve the tension of the walls and to provide light: we imagine the terrace as the summit, the place where the sun is shining and the flat as the sheltered valley. to get to the summit we climb the glacier tongue between two blocks of rock (service space and bathroom). at the same time the glacier transports the light along its ice from the top into the valley (flat).the glacier is the physical connection of the flat and the terrace and at the same time the communicative center, a tribune for people watch you cooking and finally the kitchen.
the floor is like a frozen lake at the end of the glacier, reflecting warm light, colored by the wooden rocks.
to give the impression of a landscape and make the ‘glacier’ work, we let all the programs disappear. the programmatic elements of the kitchen disappear fully, partly into the glacier and partly into the rock. so no element is permanently occupied by any program, giving us the association of a kitchen, rather than a sculpture. to dissolve the tension of the other long wall we packed the existing skylight into a cubic opening (the other rock) and let the wall disappear by suggesting an opening; a huge light up textile curtain. behind that curtain the entrance, the wardrobe and even paintings can be hidden or exposed.
the intimacy of the bathroom depends on the chosen situation. the wall besides the bath slides open, touching and communicating (through a light gap) with another ice block (the bed and cupboard sculpture) in that situation the bath is totally exposed in the middle of the flat.
while opening the bath, the space in the bedroom becomes more intimate up to half the body height, providing enough intimacy for changing. a curtain finally enables to visually totally block the bath and shower area (a cubic opening in the rock).
at night fine gaps of lights (indirect), like crevasses light up the glacier and invite to sit or lie on the landscape and enjoy a glass of wine with your loved ones.

Client:

Die Mobiliar
Versicherungen und Vorsorge
Bundesgasse 35
3001 Bern – CH

gus wüstemann architects-The Glacier
photographer: A@GW

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gus wüstemann architects-The Glacier
gus wüstemann architects-The Glacier
gus wüstemann architects-The Glacier