Situated on Lake Geneva’s shores, the «House by the Lake» overlooks one of Switzerland’s unique sceneries. When first faced with this incredible view, it appeared evident that the architecture had to bind with its surrounding and not tempt to outweigh it. The idea, then, was to indulge in a dialogue with nature. Through a contextual approach, this individual house plays with topography to root itself organically.
What we see is landscaped architecture. Two retaining walls follow the contour lines, distorting the ground slightly to inject a courtyard with a garage and technical amenities. A curved pass similar to an architectural promenade reveals this yard and the house’s entrance. There, we access the interior through a split in the second retaining wall.
With its back against the north, hidden from its neighbours, the house privileges silent views on the lake scape. Local guidelines required for a pitched roof, a constraint that the architects used to define the house’s shelter using five gables instead of two. This articulation of the top and fold on the main front allowed the single-family home to benefit from bespoke views throughout the day.
The ground floor divides into two wings: the common areas and the owners’ private suite. Upon entering, guests share a first glimpse at the lake before turning left, where they access an open kitchen and dining room. Views then widen through this interior promenade as the floor ramps down, and a double-heights appears above the living room at the culminating end. On the other side, the master bedroom with bathroom and home office provide users with privacy and south-west views. Natural light irrigates all the ground floor through a continuous ridge between the walls and roof. Moving to the upper floor, one arrives on a landing — with a large shared terrace — that distributes two en-suite bedrooms for children or guests.
On the facades, materials extend the house’s organic expression. With bricks on the walls and clay tiles covering the roof, the construction bears earthy tones all around. The use of untreated, oiled oak for the window frames affirms these earthy tones for increased warmth and connection to the landscape.
Sustainability also guided the house’s development. With its fold on the south side, the home shelters inhabitants on windy days. Its large openings warm the inside naturally most of the year, while the terrace’s cover protects the interior from the summers’ heat. The tall brick wall increases thermal inertia on the north front, while its narrow strip of windows above enables cross-ventilation. The house also benefits from a geothermal heating system. On top of this, the courtyard’ hills were built with land on site. In doing so, the construction eluded the transportation and discard of excavated soil.