WALLPAPER* ARCHITECTS’ DIRECTORY 2019: Swiss architect Leopold Banchini founded his studio in 2016. His pre-fabricated timber house in Geneva, Casa CCFF (pictured) demonstrates his independent and playful approach to building.
Leopold Banchini’s floating domestic factory Casa CCFF nestled in an urban patch of overgrowth in Geneva intrigued us for its eclecticism and clever manipulation of natural light and space. The Swiss architect, who founded his practice in 2016 after working with Daniel Zamarbide under the name of BUREAU prior, established his own studio with an open-minded approach, unafraid of blurring boundaries between disciplines.
Casa CCFF encapsulates his playful style that is inspired by architectural history, popular culture, vernacular and craft. The choppy angular roof of the house borrows its form from nearby industrial shed roofs of Geneva’s train station, and beneath its raised volume, there is a generous covered space for outdoor living and parking a car. Designing a house is a ‘beautiful and meaningful collaboration – a unique occasion to challenge preconceived notions of domesticity, and to shape utopias,’ says Banchini.
Embracing a global approach, Banchini describes his studio as ‘nomadic’, and finds that he is constantly challenged by new projects. His projects vary from small self-built installations such as an inflatable bar for the Centre Pompidou, and large scale public cultural projects such as the recently completed House of Architectural Heritage in Muharaq, with Noura Al Sayeh.
‘Life is more important than architecture’ – LEOPOLD BANCHINI
As an alternative to heavy, concrete, sculptural houses often found in Switzerland, Banchini embraces DIY culture – as seen in the Casa CCFF, which employed economic materials and prefabrication to keep construction costs at a minimum. Built almost entirely of wood and developed with engineer Marc Walgenwitz, the house was assembled in a few days by local carpenters.
Banchini engages in a wider academic conversation about architecture, while ‘trying to define the meaning of our practice in a destructive capitalist society.’ As well as teaching at the HEAD Geneva and the Swiss federal institute of technology in Lausanne (EPFL), he is currently the head of the Studio for Immediate Spaces at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Yet the biggest lesson learnt as an architect so far? ‘Probably that life is more important than architecture,’ he says with a smile. §