Ahead of the curve: an undulating house on the shores of Lake Zurich

The exterior of an elevated curved structural black and grey residential building with floor to ceiling doors and windows. stair case on the right and left of the building. Building of off a road
Swiss studio Evolution Design unveils Flexhouse, its latest curvaceous marvel by the shores of Lake Zurich
(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

Flexhouse, a new home on the banks of Lake Zurich, appears to be a formal flight of fancy that has become a bricks-and-mortar – or rather glass and undulating ribbon of aluminium shingles – reality. Yet the design by Swiss studio Evolution Design isn’t simply a stab at statement architecture for the sake of it. Essentially it’s a practical solution to what is a tricky and inauspicious site.

The small triangular chunk of vacant land, spotted by Evolution Design executive director Stefan Camenzind, was challenging in its narrowness, squeezed as it was between a railway line and a road. Added to the mix are the oft’ onerous Swiss building regulations. 'There are strict rules around boundary distance and building volume,' says Camenzind. 'But we were determined to build something that responded to the site rather than just a square box planted on the plot.'

An interactive floor plan showing the first floor of a residential home

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

Camenzind’s 'outside the box' response was to take the idea of the constant movement of the 'dynamic boundaries of railway lines, road and lake beyond' and create a four-storey, 173 sq m house featuring a floor plan that goes from wide to narrow to follow the railway lines and shape of the plot. The fluid folding curves of aluminium shingles snake through the building, drawing the eye continuously upwards. Boundary blurring glass walls on three sides of the house offer views through the spaces to the 180-degree vista across Lake Zurich to the mountains beyond.

The fluidity continues internally, not only in terms of the open-plan living arrangements but also in the way that there is a seamless transition between levels. Rather than closed-off individual floors, double-height spaces offer glimpses of rooms above or, from the first floor, to the living room below.

Ecologically, the house meets Switzerland’s 'Minergie' standard with features including thermally activated concrete floors that connect to a geothermal heat pump. The glass facades are triple glazed with external blinds for optimal control of heat gain. 
 
'A futuristic vessel that has sailed in from the lake and found itself a natural place to dock,' is Camenzind’s particular take on Flexhouse.

A ship-like shaped residential home featuring curves, floor to ceiling glass windows and doors on a hill

The striking house is made of glass and an undulating ribbon of aluminium shingles 

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

An open plan kitchen in a residential home, featuring floor to ceiling glass doors and windoes; white kitche islands, and wooden floors

The narrow site presented a challenge for the architects, which they counteracted by creating an open-plan interior throughout

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

Open plan space with wooden floors and white celings. Curved wooden design worktop and white base with a plate of fruits plated on the top of the worktop. On the right is a spiral white staircase behind a white cages designed wall

There are views across levels as well as large openings towards the lake, blending the boundaries between inside and outside

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

Top floor terrace with wooden floors and curved balcony railings with a view of the ocean. On the terrace is a floor to ceiling glass walls & doors with an open sitting area on the other side

The house also meets Switzerland’s ’Minergie’ standard for environmental friendliness in architecture

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

Lounge area in a residential home featuring white ceilings, wooden floors, floor to ceiling doors and windows. A grey L shaped sofa with cushions/pillows, white standing lamp, a glass center table and a curved staircase in white and brown

The four-storey building also adheres to the area’s strict building regulations and in order to do so, it goes from wide to narrow to follow the nearby railway lines and shape of the plot

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

A room in a residential home, featuring floor to ceiling windows with grey panels, wooden floors, white ceiling, grey walls with built in cabinets and a red arm chair in the corner. The room has views of the ocean and mountains

The glass facades are triple glazed with external blinds for optimal control of heat gain

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

A grey chair with a white side table in a room in a residential home with floor to ceiling windows, wooden floors, white walls and ceilings.

The fluid folding curves of aluminium shingles snake through the building, drawing the eye continuously upwards

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

An open space in a residential home with white ceilings, grey panels, wooden flooring and a view of the ocean and mountains. The room has a black leather chair and footrest with wood details.

Few areas are closed off by doors, offering residents openness and a steady 180-degree vista across Lake Zurich to the mountains beyond 

(Image credit: Peter Wuermli)

INFORMATION

For more on the architecture visit the Evolution Design website (opens in new tab)

Photography: Peter Wuermli