The Hole House, as it is known, has gained a certain notoriety in Vals. ‘Ah, that crazy place’, muttered one local in the bakery before giving directions to the property, which comprises three distinct parts: a concrete living area with a quirky elliptical façade, a traditional Swiss barn used as a storage and drying room during the ski season, and a 22m underground tunnel that links both buildings.
Its creators, Christian Müller, who was born in a village nearby but runs a practice in Rotterdam, and Bjarne Mastenbroek, whose firm SeARCH is based in Amsterdam, had the idea for the house in 2004 and bought the plot two years later.
The finished house, though, is about as far from being a bunker as one could imagine: its four bedrooms are flooded with light and have stupendous views, and there’s an all-mod-cons kitchen. The courtyard has a natural sprint and a hot tub, inviting you to pull up a lounger and watch the sun turn velvety mountain peaks to steel shards and back again in the space of a day.
The materials to build the property – the concrete, wood and stone – were sourced locally. Only the façade’s glass panels were made in Austria. Inside, the concrete walls are all rough edges and natural staining, more an echo of Vals’ ski lift than of the polished surfaces of Zumthor’s spa.
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