Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

FLAMATT I

TERRACED HOUSES, ATELIER 5, WÜNNEWIL-FLAMATT, CANTON OF FRIBOURG, 1957-1958

© Images & Text: Karin Hunter Bürki / HEARTBRUT

Flamatt I counts as one of the first and most influential brutalist buildings in Switzerland. The terraced-housing plan redefined and simplified ‘brut’ Corbusier design ideas for the Swiss habitat and put Atelier 5 on the international map.

Located in the municipiality of Wünnewill-Flamatt near Berne, the box-
on stilts in reinforced, exposed concrete is sandwiched between the rivers Sense and Taverna. In concrast to the rough exterior, the interior interior walls are painted a pristine, modernist white. Spanish clay was used for the living room flooring, while the bedroom featured green linoleum.

The south-facing building comprises 6 single-family units. With its studio-house section, terrace with stair and vibrant colour scheme (by artist Rolf Iseli) and other design details, Flamatt I cites various signature Le Corbusier-isms, but in such a clever and sophisticated way it lends the building a new and very contemporary footing and panache. Flamatt also reiterates similar plans the studio used for their single family house at Rothrist (AG) and the Boiler Factory in Thun (BE), both completed in 1958.

At the period, Flamatt I was fêted as a masterclass in low-cost construction and high-standard living. The structure also served as a prototype for Halen estate (1961), itself a pioneer of low-rise, high density housing. It was later joined by Flamatt II & III, also designed by Atelier 5.

Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki
Flamatt I, Terraced Houses, Atelier 5, Flamatt 1958, Brutalism © HEARTBRUT / Karin Hunter Bürki

Saurerhochhaus in 1963 (© Bauen+Wohnen / ETH E-Periodica )

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