Clean and Crisp in Switzerland

Places / April 9, 2010

Sebastian Knorr, founder and head of design at tecARCHITECTURE in Los Angeles and Switzerland, likes to quote Sergio Scaglietti about the effect of design on human emotions.

“Design is not just a function of form, but also of the desire it creates,” he said.

Scaglietti knew more than a little about such things. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, he was the carrozzeria of choice for Enzo Ferrari’s racing efforts. He designed the classic 1957 250 California Spider, the 1958 250 Testa Rossa and the 1962 250 GTO. In 1954, Roberto Rossellini commissioned him to build a Ferrari for his wife, actress Ingrid Bergman.

Like Scaglietti, Sebastian’s firm seeks to blend design with craft and technology to create an optimistic, positive effect on his clients. “We want to produce a smile on your face,” he said. “Whether you’re looking at it or you’re inside, it’s the very simple idea of making you happy and attached to it.”

His new chateau in the Swiss village of Salzenstein, is a case in point. The village overlooks Lake Constance, on a steep slope. The new chateau is situated about 200 feet above the lake, with a wide and rolling vista.

“It’s a typical, if not stereotypical, context of small village houses,” Sebastian said. “We had to stick with the established heights and roof shapes. Those around us are not as open as ours – it was clear to us that the front side had to be transparent to the lake.”

The result is a traditionally shaped chateau with a modern, even progressive, approach toward its form. One face of the five-bedroom, four-bath home – the one with the fabulous views – opens up completely to its surroundings. Chairs and furnishings were designed by Phillip Starck, whose work has been featured on “Boston Legal,” “Ugly Betty” and in the Peninsula Hong Kong.

“The idea was to make it simple, but not too simple,” Sebastian said. “There are things to discover there if you look.”

At 420 square meters on a 1,700 square meter lot,  the home is not big, but not small for Switzerland either – there’s room for a garden, after all. Outside it’s built mostly of concrete with plaster, and Porotone bricks. Inside, plaster walls complement oak-planked floors. The entire home is heated and cooled with geothermal.

It’s brought a smile to the faces of its owners, and to its architect. “I’m happy that we could achieve that within the zoning and height limitations,” Sebastian said. “Sometimes those things challenge you in a good way.”

For more information on tecARCHITECTURE, go to

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Michael Welton

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1 Comment

on April 16, 2010

Beautiful — except for that goofy pitched roof. But I suppose it’s necessary to shed snow. But imagine how a sleek flat roof would look, with deep overhangs to protect the glass wall…

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