Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architekten is an architectural practice based in Zurich, Switzerland. The two architects, Andreas Fuhrimann and Gabrielle Hächler have been working together since 1995. Most of their projects are located in Switzerland and they have won numerous accolades for their projects namely, House Kubana, Villa Ensemble, Country House Bärgiswil, and Finish Tower Rotsee among others.

Their work is characterized by contemporary and modern structures, with local and simple materials. Concrete brut is an important material in their designs, and it is distinguished by its elegant use and visual complexity. As a comment on today’s fixation on perfection, the architects consciously seek non-perfection, impurity,  and ambiguity.

Following are 15 projects by this team of contemporary, modern architects.

1. House for architects and artists, Zurich, Switzerland,  2004

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Completed in the year 2004, the House for Architects and Artists in Zurich is a unique 1,035 sq. mts. residential structure designed to accommodate four differently sized units. All four apartments are accessible through a double-storeyed entrance hall, with each unit having its independent staircases. 

The design by AFGH Architects fully utilises all four facades and viewpoints of the structure to maximise the profit for each unit. This is a characteristic differentiation of the design, as the windows on the north and south facade are unique and unmatched. 

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The materials used are unfinished concrete, timbre, and galvanised steel. The concrete forms the framework of the actual wooden structure and the intelligently placed reflective glass panels form the artistic and characteristic element of the space. 

 

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The rawness of the structural elements gives a unique artistic aesthetic to each space; it also allows for the external view to be the “hero” of the house. The ceilings and the walls are made of prefabricated, isolated wooden elements of spruce. 

 

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The conjunction of the four units is seamless by design. AFGH Architects play with the linearity of spaces, making them all a little polygonal, creating an experience of a home like no other.

 

2. Holiday House on the Rigi, Rigi, Switzerland, 2004.

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The house on the Rigi by AFGH Architects is a 242 sq. mt. private holiday home in the mountains in Rigi mountains, Switzerland, designed to maximise panoramic views of the valley. 

The house appears to be floating at the edge of the mountain, allowing for beautiful views and maintaining maximum distance from surrounding structures. 

To incorporate the three-storey building in the sloped terrain, the architects decided to create a concrete cellar that anchors the building in the slope, and timbre living spaces on the top.

The gorgeous views are enhanced by the unique 5-metre long window in the living room, which is a fixed glass panoramic window designed by AFGH Architects to introduce contemporary modernity to the space. The views are framed like breathtaking pictures through enormous windows in every room as well. 

The building is placed beautifully at the edge, with its timbre deck jutting out to create a weather-protected entrance, and also creating the visual of floating in the mountains.

3. Grieder House, 2006

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The Grieder house was originally designed by Swiss architect Theodor Laubi, in 1956 and was redesigned by AFGH Architects in 2006. In 2005, the residence was taken over by a young couple that insisted on having a public art gallery in the house. The gallery revitalised the house into a modern space that profited the surrounding area as well.

The conversion undertaken by AFGH Architects was not merely to restore the house and its original character, but in fact to amplify the hybrid nature of the new style of architecture and to introduce elements of contemporary rudiment to it.

The former washroom featuring a lovely panel of concrete slats has been converted to a beautiful kitchen for the upper apartment with a terraced balcony. The concrete lattice displays the “Brazilian Flair” of the former Mediterranean style with contemporary relevance.

The choice of material does not conflict with the legacy aesthetic of the structure but in fact, balances the contemporary nature of the redevelopment.

4. House Presenhuber, Vna, 2007

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The Holiday house by AFGH Architects is located in the village of Vnà in Lower Engadine, Switzerland. It is a 224 sq. mt undertaking by the architects to design a modern and contemporary house amid the rustic architecture of the village. 

“The building closed a permanent gap in the village structure whilst the dimensions correspond to those of the adjacent houses”, the architects said.

Over time, the timber houses in the village were destroyed by fire, thus giving rise to a character of stone structures, indigenous to the village. The House Presenhuber is erected in gas concrete, paying heed to the archaic character of the village while maintaining its modernity.

The inner walls and flooring are lined with plywood to create a sense of warmth in the living spaces, while the walls remain massive and raw in their appearance. These huge walls are seen as paying homage to the stone architecture of the village and AFGH Architects have thoroughly introduced modernity in the style of opening and interiors. This creates a perfect balance between the rustic feel of the house that sets seamlessly in the village, yet stands out with its contemporary style and modern elements.

5. Apartment house on Röntgenstrasse, 2010

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Situated in a non-residential area in Zurich, Switzerland, this apartment building by AFGH is a fresh outlook for the surroundings. Next to railway tracks and not far from Langstrasse, the building has seven different apartments designed exclusively for their occupants and tailored to their needs. 

The five-storey building is designed partly as a perimeter block but also acts as a corner frontage. The façade essentially consists of grid-patterned openings to reflect the structure’s urban context. The arched windows and heightened façade create a larger vision of each apartment and further create an urban aesthetic.

The floor areas on the first two floors are occupied by two tenants. From the third floor, there are single apartments with open plan living and dining areas facing Röntgenstrasse, and with stunning views over the railway lines.

The oak-strip flooring in the apartments gives it summer warmth, while it further acts as a balcony, framed elegantly by sliding glass doors. The top-most apartment has its private balcony with glorious views of Luisenstrasse and access to a private roof-top.

6. Erlenbach Cemetery Building, 2010

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The Erlenbach Cemetery Building consists of the tourist areas of the Erlenbach Cemetery. Designed by AFGH, architects Andreas Fuhrimann and Gabrielle Hächler, the building contains a ceremonial area, two vigil rooms, a waiting room, and a porch area. 

Unlike the chapel, the functionally hybrid structure is built as a pavilion to serve the secluded, casual environment of the cemetery. Both uses are mixed in a free form under a huge roof. Located in the middle are the funeral rooms, which can be reached from a glazed hallway facing the cemetery.

Green, largely opaque panels provide a visual shield, and space forms a significant transitional environment in which to prepare for the interaction with the deceased. Walnut paneling and natural zenith lighting give the funeral parlor an apt dignity, but also warmth and comfort. 

The introversion of the spaces offers quiet for grieving and for the dead to depart.

The archaic concrete structure happily coincides with the lightness of the glass façade, producing an abstract symbolism. The painting of the façade panels in various colors of green and brown makes the pavilion part of the natural world and is connected to a long history of applying colored glass in the holy buildings of different cultures.

7. Single Family House in Zurich Oberland, 2011

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Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler Architects (AFGH) took the opportunity to convert the former, unfinished vineyard in Rüti, a municipality in the district of Hinwil in Zürich in Switzerland, into a unique, three-story residence for a family of four. The region is somewhat undeveloped and scant, thus the family house is a modern and elegant addition to the surroundings.

The plot has plenty of perennial trees, and the huge windows of the structure open up to beautiful, green views. Since the site is topographically irregular, the challenge while designing was to create three terraces that form the exterior layout of the structure.

Each terrace is a private balcony to its corresponding living spaces and the terraces are connected smoothly by a staircase that runs through the steep slope. The materials used are concrete and timber, which creates warm interior spaces and the sliding glass windows allow for beautiful views of the surroundings.

Within, the stairway is the heart of a three-storey spatial chain. The children’s rooms are at the entrance stage, with the cellar rooms at the rear.

8. Finish Tower Naturarena Rotsee, 2013

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The Finish Tower is built on the Lake Rotsee, Switzerland, designed by Architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler as the first part of a Phase wise development called Naturarena Rotsee. 

The Finish Tower along with a Rowing centre was inaugurated together in the first phase as a single architectural ensemble, united by their similar materials, themes, and design styles.

The uniqueness of the topography in Rotsee is that it is surrounded by two hills and the lake is very calm. To create an identity for this environment, a stacked structure was envisioned by AFGH Architects. 

The stacking of the three units creates a vertical visual sense in the otherwise plain and calm Lake. The offsets in the stacks create dynamism and fragility in the structure, although it is considerably voluminous.

The building is used only during rowing events, three weeks every summer, apart from which the tower acts like a calm almost statue-like entity set neatly in the surrounding. 

The material used for the construction of the tower is prefabricated wooden elements- to increase efficiency and reduce the time of construction. The wood used is locally sourced pinewood and is thus a sustainable building technique.

9. Country House Bärgiswil, 2014

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The Country house consists of a house, a barn, and a shed and is located in the agricultural region close to Lake Lucerne. The 15000 sq. mt. property was envisioned by Architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler as a modern structure with superior courtyard scenery and landscape to elevate the surrounding architecture.

The façade of the residential building is constructed in the typical timber frame method and the exposed timber is filled with plastered bricks.  The visual aesthetic seems to be of a traditional and rustic lineage, entwined with modernity.

“Our main aim was to develop a language that nourishes itself from traditional architecture, however is immediately away perceived as contemporary architecture, without being conservatively romanticising”, the architects were quoted as saying. 

10. Villa Ensemble, 2014

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The Villa Ensemble was envisioned as a response to the client requirement to convert the existing two-family single villa, into two single-family villas connected through an underground tunnel. Access to both houses is by a footpath in the garden; the garden connects both villas at the ground level.

The polygonal volumes of the house are designed by architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler as a means of creating unique views and vantage points for both villas without much overlap. The unique shape also lends a sculptural quality to the villas, making them look modern and light.

The ash wood and concrete elements contradict each other while maintaining a beautiful harmony, just like the two oddly shaped villas constitute to form a single visual entity.

11. Row Houses in Seengen, 2015

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The Row Houses Scheme is the deliberate transformation of vernacular built forms into modern structures, designed to cater to today’s needs by AFGH Architects. The structure is reminiscent of a village barn, with various cutouts that facilitate the terraces of the apartments. 

The scheme consists of two-storey and one-and-half-storey units, interspersed to create this unique elevation feature.

“The fluctuation between simplicity, rustic straightforwardness, contemporary comfort, and architectural urban refinement gives the project a very specific character”, the architects say. They have envisioned a village-like structure complete with the gable roof transformed for modern times. 

The interior architecture and planning is the result of careful design for light, topography, and temperature. The sense of community is established by public gardens in the structure while also maintaining strict privacy for every unit.

Skylights, axial views, and glass opening heighten the dramatic experience in the site, while also balancing the modern with a traditionally built scheme.

12. The Guesthouse in Antiparos, Greece, 2015

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The Guesthouse in Greece is situated in the lower-lying terrain of the hills. It maintains a distance from the main house, allowing for the required privacy. “The white-in-white of the house resonates with associations with the habitat utopias of the 1960s, such as those of Superstudio. The predilection for round forms – which reflect the Space Age and became a characteristic of Pop Culture, but similarly represent a return to craftsmanship and suggest an ecological awareness – mirrors the manifold levels of the project”, opine the architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler.

The ground floor of the house accommodates the necessary functions, however, the generous outdoor lounging area is the real living room. The elements are all coated in white, save the blue lounging chairs in the exterior living room, and it is reminiscent of the typical Greek architecture.

The lounging areas and their undulating forms are all diverse, it’s cool and shade acts as a contradiction to the sparse, hot surrounding area.

13. House Kubana, 2016

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The Sulzer house or House Kubana is situated at the corner plot in the newly developed residential quarters outside of Olten. The corner plot allows for unobstructed views of the hills, thus architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler designed the structure on columns. 

The columns maximise the height of the house allowing for panoramic views over the fields and the forests outside of Olten.

The ground floor consists of a parking space along with a storage room, an elevator, and a staircase that winds over a reflecting pool on the first floor of the house. From the entrance, an averted staircase leads to the first floor. 

The façade is made up of pleated metal sheets, with bare elements like the staircase, a chimney, and a window.

The closed wall on the west side generates a courtyard-like space, a private open area that allows for views of the sky. The materials used are simple and unpretentious, which creates a look of complexity in their simplicity. 

The basic cube form also displays a way to express a simple and usual planning style done elegantly.

14. Residential Houses on the Hungerberg Aarau, 2016

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Originally planned as six separate row houses on the hillside, overlooking the old town of Aarau, architects Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler decided to embed the new buildings in the steep topography using gentle terraces. 

In the six units, two units are combined to form a double villa, thus the programme gives the impression of a colony of four units. 

The steep staircase creates the visual impact of the structure being embedded in the slope. The odd shapes lend a sculptural and an almost monolithic quality to the scheme, broken only in places by the occasional beam over a terrace.

The living room spaces in each unit are placed on one level with the other intrinsic spaces having different levels and their balconies. The use of timber flooring and rough concrete creates a very rustic aesthetic, suitable to the development as a response to the old town of Aarau.

15. Showroom Laufen Bathrooms at Salone del Mobile, Milano, 2018

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As architects, Andreas Fuhrimann Gabrielle Hächler’s first challenge for the Laufen Bathrooms showroom in Milano, Italy was the temporary nature of the structure. To create a narrative showroom experience, they took inspiration from Laufen’s image film and a visit to their production site. 

The nature of the exhibit was temporary, yet a permanent impression was needed in the minds of the users. The narrative was a playful and story-like expression of products by Laufen showcasing their core qualities: tradition, craftsmanship, history, and the beauty in everyday things.

“An aesthetic quality becomes visible on site, in which traditional craftsmanship is combined with avant-garde robot technology”, says Hächler and Fuhrimann. This is what drives the design of the exhibit as well. 

The entrance seems to showcase the history and the story of the products, while the interior display is a splash of colour and modernity showcasing the technological advancements made by the company.

The use of cement chipboards is a direct inspiration for rough concrete use and the bright and reflective coloured glass is an embodiment of modernity and technology.

Shama Patwardhan
Author

"Shama Patwardhan, an Architect from Mumbai, is passionate about architecture and inquisitive about its implications on Social Equity. A human being with eternal panic, she is fond of poetry, art, literature and cat videos on the internet."

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