Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

DAHINDEN HOUSE

Architecture, art and interior design meet in this 1971 brutalist Zurich family home

© Images & Text: Karin Bürki / HEARTBRUT

At Home at «Hotel Dahinden»

Cream dreams are made of this: architect Justus Dahinden’s brutalist private home in the Witikon end of Zurich’s leafy Zurichberg looks like straight out of a glossy 70s interior magazine. A world where sprayed concrete walls dissolve into fluffy, beige shag piles and sunken camel leather lounges. Have I mentioned the swimming pool? And don’t get me started on the kitchen. It comes in the kind of screaming orange-tiled totality no child growing up in the seventies will ever be able to get out of their minds.

Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

Back to the architecture. Designed in 1971 with a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House, the family home is intended to work as a multi-level spatial continuum. Its private life is disreetly tucked away from view behind dense greenery and fortress-style walls in sprayed concrete. By contrast, the interior doesn’t hold back on panoramic views across the Glarner Alps. The ground floor comprises areas for work, guests and kids. A spiral staircase leads up to the open-plan living room, kitchen, master bedroom and en-suite bathroom.

The concrete, fixtures and most of the furniture have never been changed or modernised, only maintained. Gone however is Dahinden’s elaborate collection of Russian icons, and only a small element of the Andalusian wooden wall covering remains in the living area. In their place a Terje Ekstrom “Ekstrem” chair and a cheeky painting here and a ceramics detail there do a great job as carefully-curated antidotes to the slightly musty-feeling, hard-edged masculine vibe.

Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

It is the kind of interior fantasy fashion editors drool over and would kill for to use as a backdrop for, say, a 70’s bourgeois chic shoot. Unfortunately for them, art came first. In fact, many artworks and objects on display are part of Open Curtain, a joint project between the current residents, architect Marco Bakker and Dorothee Messmer, director of Kunstmuseum Olten and artist Clare Goodwin. Staged across the house, the friendly pop-up takeover features Goodwin’s painted over source images of the house. These are complemented by works from Kunstmuseum Olten dating from the early 1970s or created by artists deemed at their peak during the period. The handmade quilts in the bedroom are a loan from designer and architect Sina Buxtorf.

Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

The heavily stylised and irresistibly photogenic interior acts as a smart and on-point comment on the present day obsession with the personal as a performance for public display. In any case, the spirit of Justus Dahinden lingers on in the slight scent of his favourite tobacco (the architect lived in his home until 2017). Such is the presence, Ms Messmer describes her residential status as being a mere guest at «Hotel Dahinden».

Dahinden House, designed by Justus Dahinden I © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Current custodian Dorothee Messmer taking a stroll to the pool

Currently, Dahinden House is up for sale for 3.3 mio Swiss francs. Prospective custodians are expected to have extensive renovation works done in close consultation with Mr Dahinden’s son. And put up with the orange kitchen.

Update 06.01.20: Dahinden House is no longer on the market

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