Nenmar are a multi-disciplinary practice who specialise in delivering meaningful architecture. They recently completed work on a penthouse in the Engadin in the Swiss Alps.
The penthouse forms part of a 1940’s building in the upper part of Celerina, a small village close to St. Moritz, which enjoys more hours of sunshine than any other town or village in the Engadin.
The client asked Nenmar to completely remodel the spaces and requested that priority was given to the living area in order to be able to entertain guests without constraints, and to prioritise the views towards the valley whilst maximising daylight.
Here, Nenmar discuss their thoughtful design approach and use of timber materials, which were a key element throughout the project.
How does the conversation begin with a client when taking on a residential project?
In this case, the conversation started with issues the client was having with the way they were using the spaces, which didn’t meet their needs. Upon seeing the property, we offered to make a proposal that would reflect their needs and develop a layout that would unlock the full potential of the spaces.
Can you talk about the use of timber throughout?
Oak panelling, derived from the same flooring batch, has been applied around the perimeter to conceal doors and discretely hide rooms and functional spaces, leaving the formal integrity intact.
The Boiserie, the French term for wood panelling is usually used in design to describe the carved, stained, painted and decorated wood panels that surround a room. It became of prominence in the seventeenth century, but its applications are very modern.
The wood covers up potential inconsistencies, providing architectural integrity; it creates symmetry functioning as a unifying element.
Wooden walls give a room a feeling of warmth, but also improves hugely the quality of the sounds, creating a ‘comfortable’ acoustic environment. Wood has a low conductivity of heat, which results in a room that heats up and/or cool down more gradually. This also keeps the temperature difference between the wooden walls and the surrounding area limited.
The timber throughout the property was sourced from an old barn that was dismantled and restored to its original finish.
How did you tackle issues surrounding sustainability?
At Nenmar, we always try to use just a few natural materials in our projects. For this penthouse, the timber was sourced from an old barn that was being dismantled, the stone reused from a waste block of Matraia which determined the size of the two sinks and the bench in the bathroom, as well as the amount of stone flooring we could use.
All the windows have been replaced with triple glazed glass. Amongst the features we introduced, there is an automated underfloor heating system. The wall has been finished with natural limestone render, a high-performance clay plaster 100% natural that regulate humidity by actively managing moisture, allow buildings to “breathe” and absorb toxins, odours and acoustics. They can also passively regulate temperature.
What was the most challenging part about this project?
The construction period. The project was carried out during the pandemic, with very limited access to the property due to flights cancellations and strict rules. The whole process was made possible thanks to a very strong relationship established with contractor who faithfully accomplished our design intent.
How would you describe this project in three words?
Calm, meaningful, resolved.
Handles by Olivari
Spotlights by Flos