A Gardener's House
Hinterforst, St. Gallen, 2006–2007
Direct Commission, 2006
Ground Floor
1st Floor

The new building has a workshop, storeroom, garage, and office for a small nursery and also offers living space for the gardener’s family. The building’s outward appearance is an expression of its functional character and is reminiscent of rural archetypes from the surroundings as well as anonymous commercial buildings from the 1950s. The primacy of the functional building was “liberating” for the design of the dwelling, since there are no traditional models or defining typologies for this type of housing. The extremely tight budget also spoke for the selected concept, because a “raw” expression with emphasis on materials seemed difficult to reconcile with the common ideal of a single-family house.
The commercial spaces of the nursery face the street, while the habitable spaces open out toward the garden. The building is organized on a single story, thus transforming the familiar hierarchical relationship between representative residence and subordinate commercial annex and also responding to the requirements of the townscape protection zone. The only exception to this simple massing is a roof projection where living and working overlap, lending a certain expressiveness to the three-dimensional form.
The load-bearing structure consists of steel frames that span between the exterior walls to form a large, hall-like interior. The steel, which remains visible inside the building, is braced by attached roof and wall elements made of wood, which also unite all the load-bearing parts into a hybrid structure. The roof and facade were mainly clad with natural-finish fiber cement panels (Eternit), thereby creating an affinity between the house and the local buildings from the 1950s.
The interior, non-bearing walls create a spatial structure that, to the greatest extent possible, echoes the load-bearing structure with a series of parallel, equally sized and thus universal spaces. A hallway and connecting doors along the facade enable the “industrial shed” to remain manifest even in the final layout. They produce a flexible dwelling form in which many paths and options for using the space remain open.

Project team
Ron Edelaar, Elli Mosayebi, Christian Inderbitzin


Engineer: Gabathuler Ingenieurbüro AG, Buchs
Building Physics: BWS Labor AG, Winterthur

Roland Bernath

werk, bauen + wohnen, 7/2008