Little house / Lionel Ballmer
Photographs: Julie masson
Text description provided by the architects. Located in the Haute-Nendaz mountain resort, this small wooden house and its workshop are nestled in a wooded area, planted around fifty years ago by the ancestors of the owner of the neighboring chalet. The project is located on the site opposite the family building, thus densifying the existing plot by dividing it in two. The shift in the plan of the house and the workshop creates a central space: an intimate garden, cut off from the rest of the world despite the proximity to the parental chalet and the building of the neighboring summer camp.
The smallness of the plot sculpts the volume of the house while the municipal regulations define its maximum height. The result is a simple monolith entirely covered on its five sides with a cladding made of raw larch strips from the region, allowing it to blend into the plant environment. Inside the house, a central staircase serves as the backbone of the project. It serves five half-levels, each made up of two distinct spaces. The so-called “public” parts occupy the lower floors, while the “private” parts are located on the upper levels.
This interior maze opens onto a succession of “small worlds”, thus creating the impression of living in a larger place than it actually is. This quest for both spatial and material minimalism goes against the consumerist dictates of contemporary society. These spaces, although clearly divided, interact with each other as well as with their own external context, by means of sliding openings that frame selected points of view.
From a construction point of view, the entire framework – interior partitions, perimeter walls, slabs, roofing and furniture – is made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) of locally sourced spruce. Prefabricated wood panels cover the entire house. The homogeneity of the materials used is a tribute to ancient mountain constructions. It creates a strong contrast with the outdoor vegetation while providing visual relief from the succession of small spaces.
Technically, the heating and hot water are produced by a pellet boiler. Radiators placed under the furniture distribute the heat evenly in each room. A wood stove in the living room can take over from the heat production of the boiler in winter. In summer, the trees bordering the plot create large areas of shade that keep the building cool during seasonal heatwaves.