carver's chalet overlooking a lake outside of Bern, switzerland. "it was a
nightmare," the Basel-based designer says now, laughing.
While that may be something of an overstatement, the cabin was sorely
in need of help: the two stories were conjoined by an outdoor staircase,
while the heating system occupied much of the ground level, where
several walls remained unfinished. Rain leaked in from outside.
Yet the rest of the house was glorious. the previous owner, an artist
who had built the place himself in the 1970s with living quarters above
and an atelier below, turned his masterful woodcarving skills to work
on virtually every surface of the home: doors and door frames, walls
and window frames, even ceilings. Delightful, intricately detailed,
occasionally elegant designs, marvelous rams' heads and the faces
of mythical beings imbue the structure with a fairy tale spirit inside and
out, stretching along the laube, or balcony, surrounding exterior of the
house—traditional in Bernese architectural design.
But the house was barely inhabitable, and the clients, who had worked
with truffer before, sought him out again. this time, the challenge—
to create an inviting atmosphere without losing or detracting from
the chalet's own extraordinary charm—was a tricky one. He found his
solution in a whisper of minimalist geometries that creates a sense of
spaciousness without sacrificing the cozy feel of golden spruce walls
and intimate proportions. After building an interior staircase, truffer
introduced a central cube on the ground floor, made of rich, dark
brown wood, to house a custom kitchen intended to be as unobtrusive
as possible, as if it were itself a piece of furniture floating in the space.