Dubail Begert Architectes recently renovated a 1970s house in Saignelégier, in northwest Switzerland as a statement against the evolution of suburbs. Tasked to improve the home's energy efficiency and thermal envelope, the architects took the opportunity to artistically raise the question of ‘why do these homes look like farmhouses when they no longer even have fields around them’? The solution was to add artificial turf to one of the facades as an extension of the small lawn surrounding the home.
“The house refuses the romantic and nostalgic ode to the bygone countryside and scoops out its inspirations contrariwise from the contemporary farm sheds,” said Sylvain Dubail and David Begert. Covered with corrugated fiber-cement panels on all sides except the garden façade, this stark, gray corrugated material is a nod to the industrial nature of the neighborhood’s infrastructure. The combined with the artificial turf is as contrary a design as it gets within the Swiss context.
The interiors are very clean and modern. Daylighting is pulled deep within the kitchen and living spaces on the second floor, and is then amplified by the rooms being painted almost completely white. A few details of green paint float in and out of the interior spaces as if highlighting that there is artificial turf on the other side of the wall. The extra insulation added by the architects to improve the building’s performance is the only thing that stands between the modern interiors and the industrial exterior beyond.