High in the Alps, the American studio of Axis Mundi designed a private dwelling that is a feast for all senses. XYZ House is a home that was designed to take in its majestic surroundings and make use of one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes. At the intersection of simple lines… seeming as though on a Cartesian plane.
The architect, John Beckmann, used the mathematic triad of the Cartesian plane as inspiration for the home’s design. Drawing upon the three-dimensional axis was the perfect way for him to identify planes within space. As the house looks onto the magnificence of the Swiss Alps, three long and skinny rectangular shapes are stacked against one another to create a residential structure unlike any other.
The three bold volumes are clad in Corten steel and assembled along three perpendicular planes. The first volume opens up into a tunnel-bridge entrance, the second is a tower built to help reach the house… outfitted with both an elevator and a staircase, and the third volume opens up into a living space that is suspended elegantly over the lush valley below.
The house’s exterior appears like rust… which is probably the thing you least want to see on a metal building, however corten steel is different. Known as “weathering steel,” it is made from alloys that do not need to be painted or maintained because their surface forms a consistent rust-like appearance after exposure to the elements. The material holds up exceedingly well even in the world’s toughest environments. The color… a unique orange hue… fits in remarkably well with both green landscapes and the desert’s warm colors.
Often most complimentary to simple buildings, corten is primarily used on geometric architectural shapes that are presented in modern architecture. Interestingly, corten got its name from its two most dominant properties- CORrosion (as in resistance) and TENsile (relating to strength).
The New York City-based design firm accounted for every detail including the three different sized windows that allow for varying perspectives when looking out the living room. John Beckmann, the architect, was inspired by the tension that occurs between the daily world and the irrational outcomes of creative genius.
Who knows if this architecturally striking project will ever see the light of day. Technically challenging structures such as XYZ House sometimes remain on paper… unfortunately. Beckmann described the house as a “ruin from the future” and this description is one that fits the mold perfectly. The starkness of the house set again such a magnificent scenery… all alone on the mountain with no other man-made structures in sight… brings up unexpected emotions. Perhaps that is what Beckmann sought; if so, it was achieved!