Pair of semi-detached houses, Thunstetten

Doppeleinfamilienhaus, Thunstetten, Fischer Architekten AG Zürich

The design concept for the new buildings in Thunstetten (Bern) can be grasped by walking around the houses, in the transitional zones between outdoor and indoor space, and in the interior: a “light funnel”, which might initially seem cold and functional, offers a high level of architectural refinement, domestic comfort and warmth.

Thunstetten is in Canton Bern, between Herzogenbuchsee and Langenthal. The gentle hilly landscape is characterised by “in-between towns” of the Swiss Central Plateau– neither rural nor urban. The site is at the western end of the area where building is permitted. The buildings in the neighbourhood consist of one storey, single-family houses, which seem anonymous as they make no spatial references. The impressive aspect of the site is the expansive views to the west and the east and the visual relationships to the open landscape.

The clearly defined volumes of the new buildings are parallel to the circulation road. The houses and the garages relate to each other in such a way that different kinds of intermediate spaces are created. The heated building volumes form the core of the composition, while a layer of outdoor space defines a semi-private zone. In summer this creates cool, usable outdoor areas. The building is entered through one of these intermediate spaces, the entrance courtyard.

The building’s cross section is a product of the views and the path of the sun. In architectural terms with its mono-pitch roofs sloping in opposite directions the building cleverly reaches towards the sun. A band of glazing just below the ridge allows the evening sun to shine deep into the interior as far as the east-facing rooms. Different spatial moods and visual relationships can be experienced within the individual dwelling unit.

The architecture completely satisfied the requirements with regard to sufficient light, air and sun. It also offers plenty of opportunities for contacts with neighbours. Demarcated semi-public areas create encounter zones but also areas for intimacy that offer a sense of shelter.

This project is from the oeuvre of Leuner & Zampieri (1990–2000).

Flurstrasse 2, 4922 Bützberg, Switzerland
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Task Pair of semi-detached houses
Job type Feasibility study / direct commission
Deliverables Project, tender, implementation project, construction management
Time period 1990–1992
Challenge Contemporary dwelling house in an extremely rural village structure
Leuner & Zampieri Architekten