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The Cross House, Kilchberg, Switzerland

Location: Kilchberg, Switzerland
Year built: 2021
Architect: Think Architects 
Photographer: Simone Bossi 

The Cross House, located in Kilchberg, Switzerland and designed by Think Architecture, is a unique architectural project that harmonizes with its surroundings. Situated in Kilchberg, this structure stands in proximity to a neighboring church. The site itself comprises a blend of older and newer core zone buildings set against a backdrop of mountainous terrains and forests. 

Think Architects, designers of the Cross House, sought to pay homage to the older style buildings in the area. Rather than replicating them, they drew inspiration from these structures, resulting in a design that seamlessly blends old and new. The floor plan of the building offers each apartment a three-sided orientation, providing them with distinctive interior views. 

The building features four apartments on each floor, with a central void that runs vertically through the structure, allowing an abundance of natural light to illuminate the interior spaces. This circular void serves as the anchor point for nearby amenities and extends from the basement all the way to the rooftop terrace. Throughout the building, sharp angular formations can be observed. 

The material palette chosen for the Cross House features the warmth of timber oak textures juxtaposed with white and off-grey walls and amenities. The floor plan of the building takes inspiration from the neighboring church landscape, with a geometric cross-shaped outline that flows inward and outward. The floor plan is characterized by triangular formations with shared corners that offer views of the surrounding landscape. Services are strategically located closer to the center of the building, while bedrooms and living spaces dominate the outer circumference of the floor plans. 

One notable architectural feature of the Cross House is the projection cut into the lettable area, creating an optical illusion that makes the building appear smaller than it actually is. This design tactic is a deliberate choice to help the structure seamlessly blend into its older, traditional context. Herringbone floors adorn each of the apartments, and the angular forms within the building’s design seamlessly connect the exterior with the interior spaces. 

The voids created by the building’s dynamic in-and-out design are filled with exterior plantations, with the perimter of the structure filled with lush greenery. The outer perimeter of the cross floorplan outline transitions from a terrace to a balcony to then a tunnel that leads through the hillside.  

The Cross House stands out as a remarkable architectural achievement, skillfully blending an appreciation for and adaptation to the existing natural landscape. The deliberate use of a unique three-sided orientation strategically transforms it into a striking work of art. 

“This floor plan is distinctive, and the deeper I dive into its details, the more intriguing it becomes. The architects’ decision to draw inspiration from the cross, a symbol closely associated with the church, for the three-sided orientation of the landscapes reflects their keen awareness of the surrounding context. It shows their ability to derive innovative ideas from the immediate environment, making this project more captivating.” – Jessica Wei 

Images courtesy of Simone Bossi