In the Swiss town of Vals, known for its thermal baths, it’s not a meteor strike that’s created a inverted-dome-shaped hole in the ground: it’s a holiday home. Astonished by the relaxed planning regulations in the vicinity of the baths – an architectural masterpiece by Peter Zumthor – the owner of the house decided on a minimal approach, so as not to obstruct views of the spa complex.
The building embeds itself fully into the landscape, yet offers sufficient natural light and views out onto the picturesque countryside.
Architects Christian Müller and Bjarne Mastenbroeck achieved this by arranging the windows at angles around a circular courtyard. The entrance is perfectly concealed: you arrive across a ‘Maiensäss’, a typical wooden alpine cabin, and then go through an underground tunnel.
This idea is reminiscent of the ‘Fake Chalets’ exhibition at the Design Museum in Zurich, which featured photographs of observation bunkers disguised as barns.