7 examples of modern Swiss architecture

Swiss Hobbit House

Switzerland is generally regarded to be at the forefront of modern architecture.

In my opinion, the limited space and genuine respect for natural resources has transformed Swiss architecture into an art. As you will see reflected in these examples, buildings have to blend in with their surroundings or need to fulfill a particular purpose. I have never studied architecture, but these elements have become pretty evident to me.

Here are seven examples of modern Swiss architecture:

Hobbit House

Here is a house in the town of Vals which could easily be missed! The wide elliptical opening that accentuates the view could be mistaken for the entrance. But in fact, the entrance is located in a separate traditional barn which is connected to the living quarters with a tunnel.

The Swiss building code is very strict, so it is surprising that the team of Swiss and Dutch architects was able to convince the local board to basically dig a huge hole in the mountainside and build this very unique home!

Swiss Hobbit House

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Freitag Shop

Featured in the New York Times and very much prominent along a busy Zürich street, this stack of containers reaching some 26 meters in height is the Freitag retail outlet. The architectural design using recycled shipping containers is ingenious as Freitag sells all kinds of fashion accessories made from recycled materials.

The Freitag messenger bag, for instance, sits next to the Sony Walkman in the MoMA and is assembled from old truck tarps. Climbing to the top of the tower is free and provides unobstructed views of the nearby train tracks and Üetliberg, Zürich's own hilltop.

"Switzerland vs. The World" is a canny series of photographs

Freitag Store Zürich, Switzerland(Photograph copyright by Walter Buschta)


Feldbalz House

Overlooking Lake Zurich, this ultimate designer home is located surprisingly close to where we live. According to the architects' description, the house was designed with social interactions in mind.

The Minimalistic Feldbalz House in Switzerland by Gus Wüstemann(Photograph copyright Bruno Helbling Fotografie)

The idea was to separate the kids' realm downstairs from the grown-up quarters upstairs while creating a "social space" on the middle floor. Apparently, this is where the family is supposed to hang out amid a system of movable walls and translucent screens...

Wow, who actually gets to live like that?

Gus Wüstemann - Feldbalz, Switzerland(Photograph copyright Bruno Helbling Fotografie)

Gus Wüstemann - Feldbalz, Switzerland(Photograph copyright Bruno Helbling Fotografie)

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Studio Monte Rosa

This self-sufficient, self-sustaining, modern day lodge was conceived by the bright architectural minds of two Swiss universities. I came across a showcase at ETH Zurich which explained the smart features that allow this alpine hut to function as a hotel and restaurant for extreme mountaineers. I don't think that I will ever get to stay at this place unless they make it accessible by cable car though...

SAC Monte Rosa - Stunning Switzerland Architecture(Photograph copyright ETH Studio Monte Rosa/Tonatiuh Ambrosetti)

Modern Chalet

Another example of Swiss architects making a bold statement is this ultimate Alpine chalet on Scheidegg mountain. What I find most compelling is the gorgeous panoramic window overlooking the mountains...

Modern Chalet in Switzerland(Photograph copyright Valentin Jeck/AFGH)

Modern Chalet in Switzerland(Photograph copyright Valentin Jeck/AFGH)

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This showroom for designer furniture was conceptualized by Swiss architects, but is actually located across the Rhine river in Germany. As far as I can tell, these shapes resemble original European houses stacked up in a seemingly random order.

What is it with the stacking theme? Haven't we seen this before with the Freitag containers above? The Vitrahaus is worth a visit for anyone with a weakness (and a budget) for design...

Most Popular Swiss Baby Names in 2009


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Lastly, here is an example for using pre-fabricated straw board panels to create sustainable housing. This building in Eschenz is really quite innovative, as straw is abundant in Switzerland and thus inexpensive while providing superb insulation against heat and sound!

Stohhaus(Photograph copyright Felix Jerusalem)

Stohhaus(Photograph copyright Felix Jerusalem)

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More resources on architecture in Switzerland

- Stunning architecture at Lake Geneva
- The Smurf enclaves in Geneva
- The Ferienhaus Huse in Vitznau
- The best of Zürich's architecture

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Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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11 replies
  1. Melanie Burkhard
    Melanie Burkhard says:

    Hey Di, this is so funny!!! Last time Andi and I have been to Vals we got very close to exactly that house to get an impression! :-)

    Love, your sis Melanie

  2. a&
    a& says:

    There are so many examples for really bad architecture in Switzerland. Therefore, I really appreciate seeing these! Didn’t know many of them…

  3. Antonio Tejada
    Antonio Tejada says:

    Just goes to show how much personal taste varies: I find every one of these to be just dreadful! Switzerland is full of sterile, cubic spaces, and most of these emphasize just that.


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