House in Binningen by Luca Selva Architekten



Basel firm Luca Selva Architekten have completed a house for an art collector in Binningen, Switzerland.


Large windows frame views towards nearby Basel and the surrounding trees, or direct the visitor's gaze back into other areas of the building and the artwork displayed within.


The residence is arranged around a swimming pool and has clay floors throughout the interior.


Photographs by Ruedi Walti.


Here's some more information from the architects:


A house for art

Single family home in Binningen (Switzerland) by Luca Selva Architekten, Basel

There are houses that become houses devoted to art over time by the gradual addition of artwork. Others, like the house in Binningen, were built to be a house for art from the beginning.


This is reflected in the traffic pattern as well as in the sequence and size of the main rooms, the position and finish of the windows and the conservative and unitary materialisation. The ground floor flooring gives the impression that it has existed since the beginning of time. It consists of a stomped clay floor, made by Martin Rauch. It is the colour of honey and it has countless crazes and a velvety touch despite its hardness. The floor leads the visitors from the entrée through the corridor to the entrance hall, which are squired by large-sized photographs by contemporary artists and include rare and aged cactuses and various delicate antique physiques.


This archaic floor contrasts strongly with the slender and precise aluminium frames of the sliding glass doors which constrict the passage from the hall to the living room, opening it up towards the garden and the covered seating area. This is where the interpenetration of indoors and outdoors is strongest.


The angular floor plan repeatedly allows simultaneous views of interior and exterior surfaces which are both kept in the same bright white to enhance the visual continuity of ceiling and walls. The ground floor’s flowing sequence of spaces is perfectly suited for the successive viewing of the works of art.


The rooms differ in ceiling height and lighting. The windows are placed carefully, respecting quality of the daylight as well as the views they frame.


The high set window in the hall focuses on the ample treetops of the neighbouring plot, while the living room window offers a surprising view of the distant city of Basel.


Only now does the visitor notice how precisely and with how much of a dramaturgical thought the house is placed, also how skillfully its polymorphic volume uses the various qualities of the site. The back side traces the boundary while the garden side’s focal point is set on the pool.


The edges of the latter are designed as benches reinforcing its physical presence. The pool becomes an object set in the garden, surrounded by orange Tartan flooring that strongly contrasts with the garden’s vegetation.


Indoors, the flush mounted windows dialogue in a similar way with the images. Since the embrasure is nearly invisible, the environment seems to suddenly invade the room. The windows act as autonomous images rather than as a separation between indoors and outdoors. The entire house has an object-like appearance, mostly due to its colour.


In some places the facade’s white stucco lustro is smoothed, in others it is left open-pored. This creates a variety of different shades, all similar but never quite the same.


The balanced composition evokes Alvaro Siza’s work and due to its central hall it is reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche. The house in Binningen does not limit itself to providing a neutral background for art. It takes an active part, including residents and guests in the conversation.


Part of the text by Christoph Wieser for the magazine werk, bauen und wohnen
Architect: Luca Selva Architekten, Basel
Collaborators: Barbara Andres, Roger Braccini
Site manager: Sabin Achermann
Landscape architect: August Künzel Landschaftsarchitekten, Basel
Structural engineer: Walther Mory Maier, Basel
Photographs: Ruedi Walti, Basel


Posted on Thursday June 4th 2009 at 2:20 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • gab xiao

    Love it! It’s a clean, splendid house that beautyfies the landscape.
    Although discrete, one can spot very subtle details at the gate or inside the house, at the landing area.

  • garth n.

    when will orthogonal design go away?
    didn’t the computer unleash the shackles of the linear world in design?
    will our future be peppered with a nostalgic love for modern design similar to greek, roman , & colonial design?
    big yawn.

  • Looks really, really beautiful … inside and out.

  • Gallego

    the house is okay, but the surroundings?! such architecture belongs to green garden, so that the simplicity and pale of exterior (and thru windows and glass walls even the interior) can both contrast with and fit into colorful nature. the pool itself is questionable, but orange tartan flooring?? that’s one of the stupidest ideas I’ve seen recently… it really needs a plenty of paintings and objets d’art inside, for a look outside the window must be a sorry one…

  • garth…its a choice thing. you either like lines or squiggles, or maybe both at different times. and both can be yawn enducing…or not.
    i like the posted house.

  • nori

    I LOVE IT!

  • Justin


    Orthogonal design will not go away.

    It is an inherent aspect of construction on earth. We wish to create, ultimately, a shelter parallel to and raised above the ground plane, which is most efficiently supported by members perpendicular to the ground plane (and in the direction of the gravitational force on earth). Unless that changes, orthogonal design will not disappear.

    What would happen if orthogonal design did “go away”? Eccentricity would be the norm, and the foolish grand child of your foolish grandchild, herself the grandchild of a fool, would yearn for the reintroduction of orthogonal form.

    The quality of the design of an orthogonal form cannot be detracted from simply by pointing out its prevalence.

  • Fiona

    The brief of a house for an art collector should not necessitate the building to take on the role of gallery over home. There is no warmth, no inginuity to distinguish this building away from being a gallery to appeal as an atmospheric, personal space that it should be.

  • Heath

    Looks cold! Could be inflenced b the fact that I am currently freezing my bollocks off but it looks very cold.

  • bizzeb

    i like the window in the living room..
    the spaces seem uninviting, and clumsily disproportionate, some being tall and exposing, others being low cramping and claustrophobia inducing. I find no excitement in the material choices, the floor is the most exciting but still lacks the signs of a spirited investigation. the outdoor space seems somehow stark and lacking a place to enjoy, or even feel comfortable sitting. as per the discusion above: i think reaction(excitement) is very important (garth), but doesnt need to be induced by curving surfaces or lines (james webb). but i certainly dont find much excitement being induced by the spaces, materiality, circulation, viewing situations etc.

  • Motorunners

    I see alot of character and energy in the floor.. I think it’s a great feature in contrast with the clear outlines of the elements and the crisp white walls/roof.. I also find a connection with the lighting.. subtle but still.. even though the color may be questioned, I find it to agree with the concept of ‘living with art’.. it makes a good balance between the arcitectual elements and the art..

    I like the projects statement that this contemporary gallery is a solution that could do it’s job as a home.. question is, for who? the client alone, or for everyone..?

    but what really troubles me with the building is the outdoor area.. it’s just a void.. I find it uncomfortable..

  • garth n.

    …”most efficiently supported by members perpendicular to the ground plane “…

    this is most efficient for a cave man with limited means, or a developer anxious to save some cash.

    some of the most efficient forms on earth created by mother major, such as an egg shell or a tree, distribute structural loads in extraordinary ways.

    i like to think about the present & the future as a frontier for discovery & execution.

  • garth n. is an idiot.

  • garth nn.

    garth n. : it seems that he needs a psychotherapy!