House for a Musician

House for a Musician in Scharans, Switzerland by Valerio Olgiati

The name that architect Valerio Olgiati gives to his design for the atelier and residence for singer-songwriter Linard Bardill -- House for a Musician -- sounds like a project from an undergraduate architectural design studio, where the professor asks the student to design for a particular type of client (painter, musician, physicist). What's missing from those projects is the fact that houses are made for individuals, not types, something that is apparent in this house, regardless of its moniker.

According to his own web site, Bardill is "Switzerland’s most successful children’s songwriter," with "ongoing activities in mainstream music, such as his work with large and small classical orchestras and the well-known Swiss jazz band, Mini Geiss Goes Polkajazz." This balance of the fun and the serious, the childlike and the mature, is evident in how the design presents itself to its neighbors: red concrete walls covered with a random smattering of ornamental reliefs.

Beyond the focus on the individual client, architecture must always address its location. In this case the house sits on the site of an old barn in the center of the small town of Scharans (pop. 825). Planning restrictions called for the rebuilding of the old barn's volume, a requirement that gives the house the profile of what came before but also gives Bardill area that he did not need. In response, Olgiati created a courtyard from the majority of the footprint, in effect creating an oasis for the musician to retreat to.

The house's interior reinforces the importance and focus of the courtyard, with a large sliding glass wall off the main living area allowing for this outdoor space to flow inside. This apparent flow is furthered by the same red concrete and ornamental reliefs finding their way into the living area. What at first glance appears to be an inhospitable environment -- monochromatic in character and free of windows -- is appropriate for the musician who "dreamed of a place where he could withdraw and work."

(Many thanks to FLO for the head's up on this project.)


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