Saurerhochhaus in 1963 (© Bauen+Wohnen / ETH E-Periodica )
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 Wünnewil-Flamatt near Berne, neatly wedged between rivers Sense and Taverna, the south-facing box-on-stilts comprises 6 single-family units. 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.
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.
With Flamatt I Atelier 5 also reiterated similar plans used for their single family house at Rothrist (AG) and the Boiler Factory in Thun (BE), both completed in 1958. The unit was later joined by Flamatt II & III, also designed by Atelier 5.
As an au contraire to the rough, exposed concrete exterior, the interior walls are painted a pristine, modernist white. Spanish clay was used for the living room flooring, while the bedroom featured green linoleum.