Most contemporary luxury villa designs are mindful about the specificity of the site, but the Vila Vals by SeARCH & CMA steps up the game. Situated in the close proximity of the Vals thermal baths in the Swiss Alps, the duplex residence is so discreet it’s almost hard to notice, as one basks in the glorious landscape of the Alpine resort. The structure literally sits inside a cauldron-like recess in the side of the hill. It is partly obscured by an old Graubünder barn sitting right in front of it. One needs to take an underground tunnel up to the steep patio if they intend to pay the owners a visit. The façade is set in natural stone, so as to further blend in with the local architecture. It is close to the ground, to the surrounding nature and, ultimately, it is perhaps the most environmentally-sensitive residential structure to grace the pages of this website. Its interiors are in no way aesthetically inferior. They are a graceful blend of post-industrially bare walls in concrete, with Romantic and Baroque detailing (see the wrought-iron chandelier over the dining table). There is plenty of color, to keep the rooms fresh and vivid. There are plenty of wooden surfaces, and there’s also a fireplace, to remind one that they are, after all, in Switzerland. There is superb detailing on the ceiling above the main sleeping area, with organic shapes to counterbalance the rough finish of the walls.
Local authorities were notably strict in their rejection of modern residential design projects, which they feared would clash with the classical look of the thermal baths. The Villa Vals, however, managed to charm its way under their ‘approved’ stamp, with its pragmatic and unobtrusive, albeit a tad absurd look. All photos taken by Iwan Baan.