In the heart of Flims, Switzerland, the Yellow House, originally a modest structure, has undergone a profound transformation under the guidance of Valerio Olgiati. This architectural endeavor has turned a building with a commonplace past into a significant cultural center, intertwining the threads of history and modern design philosophy.
Yellow House Technical Information
- Architects: Valerio Olgiati
- Location: Flims, Switzerland
- Topics: White in Architecture, Swiss Houses
- Project Year: 1996 – 1999
- Photographs: © Giorgio Marafioti
I am interested in a ‘wonderful realism’, a realism full of wonders, full of things that are not real. I find this contradiction very poetic
– Valerio Olgiati1-2
Yellow House Photographs
Valerio Olgiati’s Architectural Intervention
Perched a thousand meters above sea level in a ski resort area, this former mansion faced demolition before being saved by Rudolf Olgiati, Valerio’s father. Rudolf, an architect with a deep connection to local crafts, proposed a visionary idea: to donate his collection of regional artifacts to the community, provided the Yellow House was converted into a cultural center. This plan initiated a dramatic transformation, stripping the building down to its perimeter walls and removing its original entry, eave, and the external finish that had given it its name.
After Rudolf’s death, Valerio Olgiati took on the project, bringing a fresh architectural perspective. His agreement with the Parish of Flims, the building’s original owners, led to a bold reconstruction. The transformation involved gutting the interior, exposing the natural stone walls, and replacing the roof with stone slabs. In a final aesthetic shift, a coat of white lime-wash was applied, unifying the structure into an embodiment of abstract thought.
Repainted in white, the Yellow House now stands in stark contrast to its alpine surroundings. Its design features, such as the recessed windows with concrete frames and an interior dominated by a large, asymmetrical timber column, represent a break from traditional architectural norms. This column, particularly its diagonal orientation in the attic, introduces a sense of the unorthodox, blending historical respect with a contemporary edge.
Beyond its physical renovation, the Yellow House has become a hub of cultural significance. It houses Rudolf’s collection, linking the past with the present through architectural form. The decision to repaint the house and redesign the roof was a statement of rejuvenation and renewal.
Today, the Yellow House stands not just as a structure, but as a narrative of architectural evolution, connecting past and present, and illustrating the profound impact of thoughtful design.
Yellow House Plans
Yellow House Image Gallery
About Valerio Olgiati
Valerio Olgiati is a renowned Swiss architect known for his distinctive approach to architecture, marked by a blend of conceptual rigor and sensory experience. Born in 1958, Olgiati has made significant contributions to contemporary architecture through his unique designs that often challenge conventional norms. His works are characterized by a thoughtful engagement with context and history, paired with an innovative use of materials and forms. Olgiati’s projects, ranging from residential buildings to public spaces, are celebrated for their poetic and philosophical depth, demonstrating his belief in architecture as a medium that transcends mere functionality to evoke emotional and intellectual responses.
Notes & Additional Credits
- This statement resonates deeply with the essence of the Yellow House project, where Olgiati transformed a conventional structure into an abstract, thought-provoking space that challenges conventional perceptions of reality and architecture. His approach to blending the tangible with the imaginative underlines the project’s uniqueness and its impact in the realm of contemporary architecture.
- Built: by Valerio Olgiati