A Dreamhouse on a Hill (and Inside It)

An underground house that also serves as a stunning viewing platform for the mountains around.

Christian Müller Architects

For a house with stunning views, the design strategy is usually: Build tall. But SeARCH, a Dutch architecture firm, and Christian Müller Architects, have managed to design a house with stunning, panoramic vistas, which also happens to buried almost completely into the side of a hill.

Christian Müller Architects

The trick is in the oblique opening, carved into the side of a hill. The house itself is set back, leaving room for a massive patio; the shape of the opening exaggerates the feeling that you're standing before massive, vaulted skies. (For art fans: This trick is something like what James Turrell is leaning on, in his massive ongoing installations at Roden Crater.)

To ensure that the rooms aren't shrouded in darkness because of the sunken layout, the building itself isn't very deep—rather, all of the rooms wrap around the interior courtyard.

The double-bonus of designing the house like this was that it managed to skirt the tight local regulations on modernist buildings. The site, in Vals, Switzerland, is legendary for its beauty; usually, the local planning authorities require a wood-frame mock out before clearing new houses. But this time, they waived the requirements, since the house itself basically disappears into the land, and since the house's entrance is hidden inside an old barn, and reaches the house via an underground tunnel.

[Via Arbitare; pictures by Iwan Baan]

Christian Müller Architects

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  • Bradley Farless

    This is a totally cool house. I'd definitely live there! It's nice to see people getting away from the commonplace, stale designs we're all used to and trying something imaginative.

  • Aaron Allen

    I love the underground style house! Plus the elegant looking inside arrangement of the house. But, is it really safe to build a house on a hill? Just wondering if the soil won't erode.

    grow taller

  • GD Mltmd

    I can't help but wonder if the architects didn't get *some* inspiration from a famous house built 'under The Hill': Bag End, belonging to a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins ;).