Located in the Swiss Alps, this apartment was designed to fulfil very special functions. The entire area can be used as a single loft or separated into four units with the use of movable walls and partitions. The result is comfortable, contemporary living accommodation for between 20 to 24 adults and four children.
This is the first project Bernd Gruber handled in the Canton of Grisons, Switzerland in the picturesque Swiss Alps. The altitude, at over 1 000 metres, was challenging in terms of supply, as was the need to achieve very specific tasks insofar as accommodation.
Designer Bernd Gruber took over an already existing carpentry business from his father in 1992 and immediately restructured the operation according to his own ideas. In the summer of 2016, his workshop was enlarged to 3 500 square metres and thoroughly modernised. This project was completed in late 2016 and he was responsible for concept, execution and building supervision. Gruber custom-designed and manufactured many fixtures and pieces of furniture for this apartment where the surfaces provide an interplay of coarse to fine textures. They work with a mix of custom-made spruce folding wood panel / dividers alternating with smooth surfaces; these include plain natural oak and Italian natural stone of varying finishes and qualities.
The entire floor of the loft is finished with a smooth, continuous concrete spatula technique, drawing all the contrasting materials together. This was a key component of the project to affect visual symmetry. It is an industrial cast floor to which various timbers are a counterpart. Wood, metal and stone surfaces are imaginatively employed in this patently European interior. Lighting is both functional and appealing.
Says the designer: ‘In most of our projects, it’s the final touch that reveals what we aim for in creating an individual character. Only when the interior architecture and furniture are combined with well curated accessories can one appreciate the attention that is evident in every single detail. For this project, we were responsible for the entire design and furnishings.’
The brief here was definitive. The client required three areas, which could function individually, but which could be combined as one large space – during the planning phase a fourth area was added on top. An early prerequisite was that the entire apartment should be cosy, its interior harmoniously integrated with the surrounding mountain landscapes.
Gruber designed and manufactured mobile walls and subdivisions, which recess into the perimeter walls to become invisible and to create adaptable spaces able to be easily separated into four individual apartments. He recalls, ‘A total surface area of about 700 square metres was created and can be enjoyed with enviable spatial advantage as a grand loft, but when needed it can be subdivided into the four separate units. Furniture and fixtures were specifically designed for this apartment in complete accord with the pervasive style of the interior. We manufactured these in our own workshop.’
Another notable fixture is an elegantly proportioned, custom-designed modular shelf system, which features a variety of materials. It’s designed and built in old and new oak and stone, depending on the area in which the modules are deployed.
Bernd Gruber designed and manufactured the innovative mobile walls and dividers, which recess into the perimeter walls. In this way, the designer has created adaptable spaces, which can be easily separated into four individual apartments.
As a definitive interplay of surfaces, the professional kitchen is a high calibre feature, which meets the standards of a gourmet chef. As is the case throughout here, the textures and finishes are variable, presenting as a dazzling interplay ranging from rustic to high gloss.
Says Bernd Gruber: ‘We worked with a mélange of specially selected fir and pine, stack-staggered to form a bar and set this off against smooth, fine surfaces. Then we accented the result with sleek, natural oak atop a particularly beautiful natural stone from Italy known as Ceppo di Gré – this to create a further cornucopia of surface structures. We categorised one main function for each apartment and then made sure that it worked as a single unit and as a fully opened-up layout to ensure aesthetic flow.’ Vistas to the mountains are spectacular and available throughout this loft apartment. Overall finishes are exemplary.
location: Canton of Grisons, Switzerland, EU
interior design: Bernd Gruber
photographer: Alexander van Berge
stylist: Bregje Nix