Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti: the interview that tells how their projects are born.
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
The Wespi de Meuron Romeo Architetti studio was founded by Markus Wespi, and over the years also Jérôme de Meuron and Luca Romeo joined it. In the last two decades the studio created many private buildings, often located in fascinating places and characterized by a strong materiality and by an interesting approach to interior spaces.
In many of your projects, you often give value to the texture of the walls, can you tell us why this choice?
For our architecture the material is very important.
We like to use materials that belong to the territory where we build. Even if we work on the new we still want to use materials that have a history. In the case of concrete, we often like to use the “washed” or “bushhammered” method so that we can see the roughness and it creates a vernacular atmosphere.
Casa eh. a Feldberg, Germania – 2015 | Photo: Jürgen Holzenleuchter
The plasters you use have a highly sought-after effect, do they have any peculiar feature?
Actually, they are traditional plasters as they were in the past. Nowadays it is no longer so common for craftsmen to use these techniques, which is why they seem unusual. Usually the processing is fresh on fresh, the important thing is to be present on the site when the craftsman begins the processing in order to define together the aesthetic result.
Casa ri. Brissago, Canton Ticino, Svizzera – 2013 | Photo: Hannes Henz
If I think of the Casa Del project it seems that you didn’t touch the existing. What is your relationship with the context?
The context is always the basis for the project.
In this case the preexisting is an old stable in the mountains that was planned to be transformed into a holiday home. The regulations did not allow anything to be changed outside. So, thanks to the generous size of the building, we decided to build a house inside the house. The inner box is made of wood and glass, therefore it has been inserted inside the stone cottage. The internal glass walls ensure the living comfort but allow us to see the old stone walls.
Rustico del. a Scudellate – 2017 – Breggia, nel Canton Ticino – Svizzera | Photo: Albrecht Immanuel Schnabel
In your career you have made several competitions, do you consider it a valid method to make architecture? Would you change something?
It is for sure a valid tool to make architecture and it is efficient too. It is also obvious that architectural quality is not given only by the competition itself, but by the projects that are presented and the choices made by the jury.
Do you prefer invitational or open contests?
In Switzerland, for public works, above a certain investment threshold contests are all open. In fact, many private individuals use the invitational competition, who from a regulatory point of view might not even use it. However, both types of competition have their advantages.
Is the invitation-only competition by private individuals very widespread in Switzerland?
Not much, but people accept them. It is also a reason to respect the client that in this way enhances the architecture.
In your projects every detail seems to be studied. Does the customer rely on you for the design or choice of furnishings?
Usually yes. Generally, we try to design everything down to the smallest detail, so that spaces get better. Furniture becomes an integral part of the project. To give you an example in the EH House project we developed the island kitchen. We build this with the same material as the walls. The bookcases have become an important element of the project because of the large quantity required.