Huf & Hist: The understated adaptive reuse of history

Modunita Architects introduces cohesive materiality and retain traditional form to add an additional layer of history to the existing structure in Graubünden, Switzerland.

by Dhwani ShanghviPublished on : Sep 21, 2022

Situated in the tiny municipality of Felsberg, in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in Switzerland, Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects is an expansion and adaptive reuse project of a collection of buildings. This historical site is made up of two buildings, a house and a hay-barn. Over the course of time, both structures have sustained additions - concealing portions of historic layers beneath them. The residential building has been restored to reveal its original form and character, whereas the barn and its adjoining extension have been refurbished to accommodate a second home.

Huf & Hist - Site Plan | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
Huf & Hist - Site Plan Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

While the barn retains its historic frame, the volume and the footprint are enlarged to adapt to the necessary reconfiguration of spaces within, through a process of extrusion along the axis of the ridge. On the other hand, the Swiss architecture firm dismantled the extension and presented with a simple extended wooden structure.

The three distinct masses share a common garden | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
The three distinct masses share a common garden Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

Collectively, they can be perceived as a row of distinct masses, sharing a common garden. Also distinct, is their individual character - while the renewed barn has an exterior of black wood, gabled roof and vertical openings; the original house has a stucco finish with small windows and its original gable. The intermediary structure, on the contrary, is light weight wood architecture with a flat roof (and therefore the smallest volume).

Ground Floor Plan, Huf & Hist| Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
Ground Floor Plan, Huf & Hist Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

This row of dissimilar facades constitutes the side face of the collective, with the entrance of the barn on the street abutting it. Internally the enlarged volume of the new house on the ground floor accommodates a guest room with an attached bathroom, a bar and a technical room. A studio with a cellar is also included in the layout of the ground floor, on the footprint of the extension structure.

The studio space, leading to the garden| Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
The studio space, leading to the garden Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

A staircase in the entrance lobby leads to the floor above. The first floor contains the living and kitchen areas within the volume of the old barn, simultaneously separated and connected with a low concrete wall and wooden seating. Above the living area, in an attic-like space, a lounge area doubles up as a gallery. A corridor from the living area leads to a second bedroom on one side, with an enclosed bath and dressing area, and a covered terrace on the other side - both of which occupy a section of the intermediary volume.

  • First floor Plan, Huf & Hist | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
    First floor Plan, Huf & Hist Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects
  • A low concrete wall separates the living are from the kitchen | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
    A low concrete wall separates the living are from the kitchen Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

The new extended portion of the terrace offers seating spaces that overlook the garden. Therefore, in addition to providing a semi-outdoor space for lounging, the terrace enables a visual communication between the residents of the house and the common garden that automatically becomes a community space for interaction between the houses - old and new.

  • The covered terrace on the first floor overlooks the common garden | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
    The covered terrace on the first floor overlooks the common garden Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects
  • Lounge area above the living room| Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
    Lounge area above the living room Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

The historicity of the existing structure is augmented through the use of naturally occurring, and robust materials and textures. Exposed concrete walls, slabs and staircases, stone finished textured walls and a minimal use of glass is seamlessly integrated with the existing stone masonry wall and timber roof trusses.

Exposed concrete staircase and slab merge seamlessly with the existing stone wall | Huf & Hist by Modunita Architects | STIRworld
Exposed concrete staircase and slab merge seamlessly with the existing stone wall Image: Courtesy of Modunita Architects

This colour palette of natural tones of brown, black and grey is an expression of the understated, yet conspicuous intervention of the new on the old. The cohesive materiality and retained traditional form adds an additional layer of history to the existing structure, albeit one that is still reminiscent of the barn.  

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