In a location as picturesque as Vals, Switzerland, it’s difficult to imagine any new construction that wouldn’t impose on the beautiful landscape. So, when the rare opportunity was granted to construct a new dwelling just a stone’s throw away from the famed Vals thermal baths, it was of paramount importance to not disturb the tranquil site. Designed by the architects of SeArch and Christian Müller, this underground house exemplifies the notion that thoughtfully constructed buildings can live in harmony with their surrounding environs.
Situated in the Swiss village of Vals, the house is almost undetectable, nestled right into the mountain as it is. Set below ground, the concrete structure features a wide oval opening that one arrives at via a set of stones steps embedded in the steep incline. At the top of the stairs, a central patio is surrounded by a wide-spanning façade formed of large window openings, which provide luminous reflections of the Alpine vista on the opposite side of the narrow valley.
Bathed in an abundance of natural light, the house is far more glamorous than your typical underground bunker. It includes all of your typical amenities such as a full kitchen, dining area, guest room, and entertainment area, while features like the underground pathways give the residence a touch of military flair. By building the house underground, the architects were able to almost completely eliminate the need for heating or cooling in the winter and summer months.
In Vals, the vast majority of modern architecture proposals are thought to be destructive to the local ambience and are generally not favored. By designing their project to lie beneath the lay of the land, the architects created a beautiful residence that does not encroach upon the adjacent baths or the pristine alpine views.