The landmarked villa on Signaustrasse in Zurich-Riesbach was built in 1912 by the architects Pfleghard & Haefeli. It formed a coherent spatial entity with the garden – designed by the young Gustav Ammann, who was employed by the Froebel brothers at the time – which marked the transition from a picturesque house garden to a more formal architectural garden. Unfortunately, however, the garden was destroyed in the 1960s when the house was converted into an office building and parking spaces were built. With the newest conversion and by re-establishing the garden in a manner that harks back to the architectural garden, the building has regained its former stature.
The floor plan of the two-story villa has a simple layout that reflected the upper-middle-class notions of living and social status of its day. On the ground floor, the entrance hall and vestibule constitute a central spatial layer of arrival and circulation. Adjoining it on the sides are large rooms for living, dining, and social activities. The ancillary rooms with kitchen and coatroom are located toward the street. A glassed-in veranda makes the transition to the garden. On the upper floor, the hall widens and gives access to the private rooms, most of which face the garden. In the attic were more bedrooms as well as rooms for the staff.
The private client for the project is again adapting the villa to a new use. The endeavor comprised conversion of the house into an upscale bed & breakfast, with nine guest rooms on the upper floor and in the attic. To create new en-suite bathrooms, small interstitial rooms were split and allocated to the corner rooms. The sanitary connections run within the new partition walls, which minimized the impact on the protected building substance. The social rooms on the ground floor and the garden are for the use of the guests, but the owner also makes use of these rooms for private events and receptions. Also for that purpose, a separately accessible private cinema and foyer have been integrated into the basement. Finally, the project also included the installation of new building services and construction of a small underground garage.