Daily Dose: Vetsch Underground Homes

Estate Lättenstrasse in Dietikon, Switzerland

Add to TwitterOnce again, I am impressed at the innovation and dedication to environmentally-friendly practices exhibited by architects worldwide. In particular, this Daily Dose addresses the Earth Houses designed by Peter Vetsch. More than seventy such homes exist in Switzerland and other (mainly European) countries today.

Dolder Residential House in Widen, Switzerland

Vetsch’s designs make the most of the insulating and aesthetic qualities of the natural landscape. He holds that “architecture should not dictate nature; it should cooperate with it.” The residents of the Earth Houses do not merely live under or in the earth, but with it. The soil-covered roofs increase the amount of usable space for planting grasses and other plants. Of course, this helps enhance the amount of oxygen released into the air which is important to maintaining a healthy atmosphere. It also provides energy-saving insulation from rain, low temperatures and winds. Land is used efficiently in that the homes can be built into hillsides or on uneven terrain – and their beautifully undulating exteriors make them seem like natural outgrowths of their surroundings. They remind me of the habitable sculptures by Sarah Bonnemaison and Christine Macy (Gestures).

Schweizer Residential House in Flurlingen, Switzerland

As you can see from the image of the Schweizer House, not all of Vetsch’s Earth Homes are built fully underground. The above photograph shows the house’s three open sides, while it is only the back of the home that disappears into the hill slope. This resolves what would have been a definite issue for me – light. People who have had the experience of living with me know that I have “a thing” (honestly, it nears obsession) about having the absolute maximum amount of natural lighting in an interior room. Curtains have never graced my windows and the shades don’t see any use from me… so I’m sure you can see the potential problem with me (or any other light-obsessor) living underground. Reassuringly, Vetsch’s homes receive natural light to interior rooms through rooftop windows and their white finishes are sure to brighten up the space. I know I said earlier that you could visit me in my Z-Glass, but the organic, flowing constructions of these habitations are just too much to pass up!

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