Newly Swissed Online Magazine

An earth friendly Swiss hobbit home

Recently, I was driving through the countryside near Zürich and about ran into a ditch! In the green pastures near Winterthur, I had spotted what looked like a UFO!

Or was it?

Earth Home Madetswil

As it turns out, I was looking at a very unconventional "earth home" by Vetsch Architektur. This curvy residence appeared perfectly blended into the landscape, even though its white walls made it stand out. I could not help but be reminded of Gaudí's buildings in Barcelona.

Earth Home Madetswil

Back home, I googled this unusual architecture and was surprised to find out that there are several other earth home communities in Switzerland - and more than 70 worldwide!

It actually makes ecological sense to move into a hobbit house, because the natural insulation of the turf reduces heat loss during winter and provides natural cooling in the summer. The rooftops are usually covered with soil and plants, further enhancing energy independence.

According to the architect, these homes will even withstand storms, earthquakes and fires! Mr. Vetsch refers to this protective property as a "third skin", which seals the living quarters off from natural disasters.

Earth Home Madetswil

Earth Home Madetswil

Earth Home Madetswil(Pictures courtesy of Vetsch Architektur)

Now, could you imagine living in an earth home? Why do they appeal to you, or what turns you off?

Dimitri Burkhard

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 Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.


  • I’ve watched the construction of this house, which is close to my home, with a kind of fascinated bewilderment. I’m thrilled to hear that it has eco-credentials because it sticks out like a sore thumb in the landscape, to be honest, but now it makes a bit more sense. It might also explain how on earth the planning permission was given in conservative Switzerland (where we can’t even change the shape of the windows in our farmhouse!). Glad I’m not the only one who’s driven off the road in shock!

    • Hi Jo! Thank you for your comment. I can understand that the local community might routinely run into ditches when driving by this house! Regarding getting a building permit, I am sure it helped that the builder was a Swiss celebrity ;-)

  • I call it the Flintstones house!! I am not a fan of this design, at all. But hey, I do feel somewhat better knowing it’s at least environmentally friendly.

  • This particular architects designs look a bit too lumpy to me, but I do like the central premise and am working toward building a more refined version myself.

    I bought land only after explaining to all the neighbors what I wanted to do… They seemed a bit nervous but approved the idea. They will actually need to approve the final design before I can start building. I should be taking them final plans in a couple months.

Dimitri Burkhard

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland