Lauigasse 19

The house at Lauigasse 19 dates from 1305. Now abandoned, sagged and crooked, it inspires a deep respect. At the same time it also evokes the endurance and robustness of a survivor and the fragility of an elder. Initially destined for demolition by its private owners, the Federal Office of Culture invited three architectural offices to a competition to make the house habitable year-round while respecting its heritage value on international level.

The apparent simplicity of this wooden construction, made of a stacking of load-bearing elements, reveals, after study, a highly ingenious work which demonstrates the know-how of the carpenters of the Middle Ages. The load-bearing system, which is made up of elaborate joints of planks and "Bohlen", wide and thick planks, forms a load-bearing and braced unit. Houses of this type in Canton Schwyz consist of airtight, warm rooms sheltered under a large roof that also covers the fireplace in the rear part, which was originally double height.

Various adaptations have altered the original plan and spaces of the Lauigasse house. The "Laube", originally a covered lateral outside passageway, became a closed space. The floor plan was modified with a "Kammer", room, added above the original location of the hearth. In the 1960s, the construction of a garage severely damaged the log bearing wall of the east facade. Much more than recovering a previous, hypothetical and questionable state, we wish to preserve the reflection of these transformations of the house to express a just identity, specific to the Lauigasse building, and adequate to the needs of today's inhabitants.

The reading of the original plan and of the constructive principle must become possible and a priority again. A dismateling of added elements of perhaps questionable value, seems nevertheless delicate to us. Sometimes, certain parts may be worthy of interest because they bring advantages of another order, for example spatial, constructive or economic. The proposal envisions the maintenance of added volumes such as the central "Kammer " on the upper floor, and to exploit the spatial potential offered by the garage and an annex to the south.

The spirit of simplicity of the original house defines the materials to be used and their implementation. It is on this genral coherence that the new intervention stands out; recognizable and legible. These added elements, which distiguish themselves by their contemporaneity, enter into dialogue with the old ones. This is where the enhancement of the existing becomes possible. With the collaboration of qualified craftsmen, this cultural object will find its place again in today's times.

Steinen, SZ
Office fédéral de la culture
Invited competition
Construction bois
Fanny Vidale