Peter Markli

Thomas Wirz

Situation and theme

Grabs, the kind of scattered settlement, that is typical in Switzerland, lies in the flat land of the St Galler Rhine valley. Peter Markli's house stands in a gentle depression between farms and other detached houses. It faces south and access is from the north side, via a narrow asphalt road.

At the start the design work was marked by an intensive analysis of the location and the interior layout, always keeping in mind the needs of the occupants. In the course of the design process the aim was to focus on a few themes - "one decides in favour of a whole". One sketch finally embodied all the essential factors of the design.

Markli responded to the given situation with a solitary, compact building. The house does not attempt to fit in with the existing buildings; it distances itself, so to speak, from its environment. It achieves this through abstraction. The intent here is not "minimal art" or a "new simpleness", but rather a directness of expression in which all parts of the whole are visualised together.

Peter Markli Plan
Fig. 91: Site plan
Fig. 92: Sketch showing location and context
Peter Markli Houses

Relationship with the terrain

The open ground on which the house is built had to remain intact as far as possible. Therefore, the cantilevering part of the veranda seems to float above the ground. All the elements grow out of the envelope itself, which lends the building an autonomous, even introverted expression. It was not intended to be a house with external facilities competing with the neighbouring farmyards. The house is different from its surroundings, or as Ines Lamuniere says: "It possesses a certain austerity which confines people either to the inside or the outside." A private garden in the normal sense of the word would be inconceivable here; the private external space - the veranda - is part of the house.

Peter Markli
Fig. 94: The veranda is seemingly cut out of the volume. Fig. 95: The veranda "floats" above the ground.
Peter Markli
Fig. 96: The veranda - external and yet enclosed

Interior layout

The plan evolved around a focal point along the lines of the "onion skin principle". A few steps lead up from the covered entrance area to the hall, from where stairs lead to the upper fl oor and basement. The living room and kitchen are arranged in an L-shape on two sides of the hall. The large sliding windows allow a good view of the veranda and the seemingly distant surroundings beyond. The sliding aluminium shutters, providing privacy and protection from direct sunlight, help to reinforce this effect. Owing to the relationship between the corner and a section of wall, the interior space becomes opened up. This space then, devoid of any intervening columns, with the folding dividing wall between kitchen and living room, and a cement screed floor finish throughout, achieves an astounding expansiveness.

The interior layout on the upper floor also makes use of the L-shape. The south-facing rooms in the "L" are reached from a central hall, brightly lit via rooflights. The rooms, cantilevering out over the veranda, are of different sizes and are separated by plasterboard walls and built-in cupboards. The tiled bathrooms have been placed on the north side of the building.

Peter Markli Plans
Fig. 97: Plan of upper floor
Peter Markli Architect
Fig. 98: Plan of ground floor
Peter Markli Architecte

Fig. 100: Sketch showing interlacing of rooms

Peter Markli
Fig. 99: Plan of basement

Fig. 100: Sketch showing interlacing of rooms

Construction and structural aspects

The use of i n situ concrete is underscored by the non-right-angled geometry of the building, "which allows the cast form to be seen as bordering on the ideal, so to speak". The homogeneity of the cube is achieved by a constructional separation. The outer skin of concrete is structurally independent, with the loads being carried through prestressing and cantilevers. The inner skin is of plastered masonry. The concrete wall at ground floor level is the sole free-standing structural element. Besides its loadbearing function, it lends structure to the plan layout and marks the limit of the living room.

Architecture Frame Construction
Fig. 102: Entrance elevation
Peter Markli

Fig. 101: Plan of ground floor, 1:100

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

Fig. 101: Plan of ground floor, 1:100

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

The inner skin, masonry and concrete floors could be removed at a later date; the outer concrete envelope is totally separate from these in a structural sense. The point in the floor slab over the ground floor where the inner and outer skins meet (circled in fig. 103) is the point at which the large sliding windows to the veranda are incorporated. The use of such large window elements, without employing any cover strips, required a high degree of precision (tight tolerances) during manufacture and installation.

Peter Markli

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

Roof

Triflex waterproofing Concrete

Extruded polystyrene Rockwool between metal framing Vapour barrier Plasterboard

External wall, upper floor

Plaster, smooth finish Brickwork

Extruded polystyrene Concrete

Slab over ground floor

Epoxy resin floor covering Cement screed Extruded polystyrene Concrete

External wall, ground floor

Plaster, smooth finish Brickwork

Extruded polystyrene Concrete

Slab over basement

Granolithic concrete floor covering Cement screed Extruded polystyrene Concrete

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

200 mm

80 mm 80 mm

15 mm

10 mm 100 mm 140 mm

200 mm

40 mm (aussen 80 mm) 200 mm

1:50 working drawing (reduced)

15 mm

10 mm 100 mm 140 mm

200 mm

40 mm (aussen 80 mm) 200 mm

125 mm 120 mm

200 mm

75 mm 60 mm 200 mm

Peter Markli Architecte

125 mm 120 mm

200 mm

75 mm 60 mm 200 mm

Drawing Plan SmallExtruded Concrete Components

Fig. 106: Sketch showing facade proportions

Facades

Here again there is no clear hierarchy among the components. As with the interior layout the most important thing in this case is the proportions. The relationship between the parts and the whole, between the parts themselves, and between openings and wall surfaces are crucial influences on the expression of the building. Internally, Markli also controls the elevations and the positions of openings in every single room by means of a consistent system of dimensions. At the lowest hierarchic level we have the pattern of formwork joints, which itself is subservient to the surface.

Small sketches showing two elevations were used to check the relationships.

Fig. 106: Sketch showing facade proportions

Peter MarkliForm Work Sketch

Markli works according to visual rules. The north elevation, for instance, is dominated by the two divergent cantilevers - the canopy over the entrance area and the veranda - and these add a certain tension to the facade. But the openings are positioned in such a way that the visual balance is restored. What this means is that the "centre of gravity" for the viewer comes to rest within the outline of the building (one can check this with the view towards the corner).

A single element like the long cantilevering canopy always has more than one function. Besides the architectural use already mentioned, it also serves as a symbol for the entrance, protects the entrance from the weather and acts as a carport.

Building Entrance Canopy Recess

+345

+525

+345

+2125

Openings

For tectonic reasons, the windows finish flush with the outside face, which helps to emphasise the coherence of the envelope. This results in deep internal reveals, whose "archaic" nature would not normally suit the character of such a house. Markli solves this problem by including a wooden I ining on the inside with a recess for storing the shutters. With the l ighting units also being positioned above the window, the technical elements are concentrated around the opening. The walls and ceilings therefore remain intact, a coherent whole.

There are two different types of window, in both cases horizontal pivot windows in aluminium frames. In the rooms above the cantilevering veranda the "wooden box", fitted with folding shutters of imitation leather, projects into the room. On the north side, in the kitchen and in the bathrooms, this box is fitted flush with the inside wall. It houses painted folding wooden shutters to provide privacy and protection against direct sunlight. All the folding shutters are standard products easily integrated into the whole thanks to their accurate design and fabrication.

Peter Markli

Fig. 110: Window flush with facade surface

Fitting the window in this way calls for carefully controlled details in terms of sealing against driving rain and wind pressure (rebated joints).

Fig. 110: Window flush with facade surface

Fitting the window in this way calls for carefully controlled details in terms of sealing against driving rain and wind pressure (rebated joints).

Seismic Isolation DiyPeter MarkliPlanos Constructivos ArquitectonicosCantilever Apartment Blocks
Fig. 119: Horizontal section, 1:10

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