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Neutra's Swiss Mountain Masterpiece
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Mountain modern doesn’t come much better than Richard Neutra’s “Bucerius House.” The 1966 home, located in Brione sopra Minusio Switzerland, features sweeping views of snow-capped peaks and the pristine Lake Maggiore far below.
The home was one of four Neutra built in Switzerland, all during the last decade of his life. The architect’s European commissions have a slightly different character than their state-side peers, tending to feature more luxurious materials (brushed stainless steel, walnut, marble etc), more dramatic build sites, and reportedly larger budgets too.
Gerd Bucerius, a renowned intellectual, politician, and entrepreneur, commissioned Neutra sometime in the early 1960s, offering the architect $550,000 USD (~$5,600,000 in today’s dollars). The Bucerius site, remote and rugged, represented a real challenge. The mountainside is steep, towering 2,000 feet above the lake, and access was difficult. Weather conditions, principally ice and snow, were a factor not tackled in Neutra’s SoCal projects. In accordance with his ‘biorealist design’ principles, the architect carefully considered factors like microclimate, vegetation, solar orientation, and of course views, while contemplating his design.
The resulting home, a striking three-story east-west oriented structure, is a genuine masterpiece. Inside, the sweeping entry hall offers visitors panoramic alpine views. The dining hall, library, and living room, are each sequentially set further and further into the hill side, creating a natural flow and establishing the “social area” as the heart of the home. The ground floor features what is likely Neutra’s greatest pool. The sophisticated indoor-outdoor design looks impressive from any angle. Practical innovation appears in the form of large movable glass partitions that can seal off the heated interior portion of the pool.
The home proved to be just the party venue Gerd and his wife Ebelin had dreamt of when hiring Richard Neutra. The structure was reportedly restored in 2005 by Villa Nova Architekten. Photographer Ian Baan, documented the home as part of his 2010 book Richard Neutra in Europe.