Care to stay in the home of internationally renowned Swiss architect (and Pritzker Prize winner) Peter Zumthor? Architectural enthusiasts are in luck: Zumthor recently started renting out Unterhus, one of two homes he built on a mountainside in the tiny Swiss hamlet of Leis. The adjacent second home, the Oberhus, is Zumthor's own retreat where he lives with his wife, Annalisa, who grew up in the area and had long pined for a mountain home.
His light, airy, narrow wooden structures are a modern take on the surrounding traditional architecture, the antithesis to one of Zumthor's most revered works, the Hotel Thermes Vals, located on the valley floor below and built from gray quartzite and concrete.
N.B.: Zumthor is in the throes of constructing a third cabin nearby, Türmlihus, which will also be for rent. For more information, go to Zumthor Ferien Haeuser.
Photography by Hélène Binet.
Above: Zumthor's two cabins are sited on a snowy incline.
Above: Large windows open up to panoramic views and extend almost the width of the house.
Above: The walls are made from tongue and groove pine boards.
Above: In the living room, a small low window with a sliding shutter reveals the view outside to those seated.
Above: Zumthor's work is minimalist but rich with detail, with great attention paid to the woodwork (his father was a cabinet maker by trade).
Above: A sliding panoramic window in the bedroom.
Above: Wood detailing is present throughout the entire house, including the bathroom, which features a wooden sink. Another small window can be seen in the far wall.
Above: An outdoor seating area on a stone terrace for dining al fresco in warmer weather. Zumthor provides guests with rucksacks, thermos flasks, binoculars, hiking sticks, a local map, and the Handbuch Schweizer Alpen with detailed information on Alpine flora and fauna and geology.
Above: The village of Leis has just 20 dwellers, and at 5,125 feet above sea level, it's the highest hamlet in the Vals area that's inhabited all year round.
Above: Zumthor used wood beam construction; the roof is clad in local granite slabs required by local building code. In lieu of a central beam, he used steel rods to pull together the wood framed walls, leaving a space between the roof and the top of the house.
Above: The houses, viewed from across the valley.
N.B.: If like us, you can't get enough of Peter Zumpthor and you can't get to the Alps this year, his book Thinking Architecture might provide you with some way to curb that yen.