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Nenmar - Celerina Penthouse, Switzerland

The penthouse is located in a 1940’s building in the upper part of Celerina, a small village close to St. Moritz which enjoys more hours of sunshine than any other town or village in the Engadin, Switzerland.

The project started from the client’s desire to completely remodel the spaces to give priority to the living area in order to be able to entertain guests without constraints, and to prioritise the views towards the valley while maximizing daylight.

The approach was to think of the interior as a boat where every empty/full space was made into a functional space.

The existing kitchen was moved away from the main façade. This unlocked the plan to free up priority space for daily use and connected the user with the main view. Moving the kitchen also allowed to delineate the entrance, which was previously connected both formally and visually with the living room.

The house had 2.5 m ceilings for the guest bedrooms, dining room and kitchen, and a double volume that followed the roofline structure from a maximum of 4 m to 1.6 m for the living area and master bedroom.

Oak panelling, derived from the same flooring batch, was applied around the perimeter to conceal doors and discretely hide rooms and functional spaces, leaving the formal integrity untouched.

The Boiserie, the French term for wood panelling is usually used in design to describe the carved, stained, painted and decorated wood panels that surround a room. It became of prominence in the seventeenth century, but its applications are very modern.

The wood covers up potential inconsistencies, providing architectural integrity; it creates symmetry functioning as a unifying element. Wooden walls give a room a feeling of warmth, but also improves hugely the quality of the sounds, creating a ‘comfortable’ acoustic environment. Wood has a low conductivity of heat, which results in a room that heats up and/or cool down more gradually. This also keeps the temperature difference between the wooden walls and the surrounding area limited.

The timber throughout the property was sourced from an old barn that was being dismantled and restored to its original finish; the Matraia stone was reused from a waste stone block, which determined the size of the two sinks and the bench in the bathroom. The wall was finished with natural limestone render, a high-performance clay plaster 100% natural that regulate humidity by actively managing moisture, allow buildings to “breathe” and absorb toxins, odours and acoustics. They can also passively regulate temperature.

A process totally tailored to the client and the potential of the area, made up of only three ingredients: stone, natural oak and lime-finished plaster.

The proposed design retained features of interest such as the existing timber beams where the ‘new’ is expressed in a contemporary manner.

The spaces with reduced height, as far as the living room is concerned, have been used as a crash space, making this area an informal seat for watching TV but also a formal extension of the living room. As for the master bedroom, it has been used as an enclosed wardrobe.

Artificial light was coordinated with the fabric, the spaces are illuminated through reflection, obtained by lighting the surfaces which accentuate the tranquillity of the areas.

Furniture and soft furnishings were designed and made to measure to compliment the spaces.


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