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Photo © Roland Halbe

Stall in Gluringen

bkarch

Gluringen, Switzerland

Architect Benjamin Krampulz converts a former barn into a snug alpine retreat.

By Anna Fixsen

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For his firm's first project, Swiss architect Benjamin Krampulz of Bkarch gave new meaning to a barn-raising. A pair of avid cross-country skiers asked the architect to convert an 80-year-old livestock barn—once the home of sheep, cattle, and mounds of hay—into a modern getaway for themselves and guests.

The barn is located on a plateau in the alpine village of Gluringen, Switzerland. Due to the resiliency of the original larch-wood frame, Krampulz found the abandoned shed in remarkable condition; only the roof demanded repairs. But to comply with the local fire code, Krampulz moved the building away from adjacent ones by an additional 16 feet. The architect also elevated it on a concrete base to augment the ceiling height on the ground level.

While maintaining the building's integrity, Krampulz nestled an inner, irregularly shaped shell in the square barn for both insulation and to create unique functional spaces. “It's like a box in a box,” he said, “except you can experience the voids where needed.”

The original entryway leads into a space between the new and old structures and provides an area for skiers to shed their gear. The lower level also contains the bathroom, the master bedroom, and storage. Upstairs, the former hayloft was transformed into living, dining, and kitchen spaces. A loft above is used as a guest bedroom.

To maximize the pint-sized floor plan (about 500 square feet), Krampulz cleverly integrated storage into the inner skin. The architect brought in light with existing openings, but also added strategic cuts where appropriate. “I love working with the existing framework because constraints generate the project,” Krampulz said. “For me, it's more evident to give reason to things, rather than do things because the end result is beautiful.”

February 2014
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