Bau Bau house

Rancate, Switzerland

The Bau Bau house designed by Stocker Lee Architetti is located in a picturesque residential area in Rancate, Switzerland. The elongated site extends one side along a vineyard and affords clear views of the countryside and surrounding hills. Resting sculpturally on a carpet of grass, the building is completely enveloped in a ribbed titanium-zinc skin that results in a uniform outer shell. Depending on the light, this shell changes colour from dusty blue to silver grey to pale green transforming the appearance of the house throughout the day and with the seasons.

Built for two families, the building consists of almost identical mirrored apartments. The concrete structure is grounded on two ‘feet’ – the open portico formed in between creates a sense of lightness at the base, accommodating the entry and car parking. On the ground floor is a guest room. Bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the first floor, the living and kitchen are on the second floor with a study and roof terrace on the third floor. In this way, the living spaces are situated on the upper floors to maximise light and views. An open staircase that spans the entire length and volume of the house forms the spine of the building – this results in a dramatic, narrow void that stretches over eight metres high. Architecturally, light and materials informed the design of the interior. Large openings predominantly face north to capture the subtler northern light in this sunny part of Ticino. The sense of light is especially prominent on the second floor where the almost double-height ceiling and high facade windows create a bright, voluminous, living area while openings on all four sides of the top-floor studio – one directly overlooking the living room – bathe the space in daylight. Striking combinations of materials see concrete paired with warm timber flooring or sheer textile curtains. Views are beautifully framed throughout the house, each window highlighting a different part of the surrounding landscape from the wineyard, meadows or surrounding hills beyond. 

Functionally, the interior was designed to accommodate a young, growing, family. With flexibility in mind, the choice of USM’s modular furniture systems perfectly fitted the family’s needs. The timeless look of the USM Haller range integrates seamlessly with the family’s existing collection of contemporary and vintage furniture while the metal of the furniture adds another layer of materiality. For use in the home, the USM furniture is easy to handle and clean.

In the living area, a low USM Haller sideboard in Steel Blue is used for storage of toys and books. The elegant dark blue takes on the hue of the concrete, also combining well with the oak parquetry.

The white finish of the Haller tables complements the lightness of the home: the table in the adjacent dining area becomes the family hub, used for dining, children’s homework and craft work.

Upstairs in the study, two tables are used as the computer/working desk and for sewing and craft activites. A double-height Anthracite grey sideboard accommodates document storage, doubling as a low partition. Melanie Stocker from Stocker Lee: “We used USM furniture in this house because of its classic look and flexible arrangement. As architects, we regularly recommend USM products to our clients because of their timelessness and ability to be composed with other furniture very easily. There is a huge colour range and many possibilities to choose the right dimensions and configurations according to your needs.”

Architect: Stocker Lee, Mendrisio (CH) Photos: Bruno Augsberger 

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