The project follows the prevailing characteristics of this rural site, where solitary volumes in conglomerates provide space and shelter for everyday activities. By adding a house and following the typology...
Two houses in Chigny
Architect Dieter Dietz
“These houses offer a frame for the living. Like a canvas is drawn into space that awaits life to complete itself. Users will further define visual and spatial articulation.”
Sustainable architecture in a rural contest

The client requested a design which fostered the coexistence of shared and individual living spaces to provide an opportunity to live independently within a community of friends and their families. In response to the brief, the refurbishment of one of the 19th-century buildings, formerly a press-house, and the design of a new house was proposed.
The project follows the prevailing characteristics of this rural site, where solitary volumes in conglomerates provide space and shelter for everyday activities. By adding a house and following the typology of a barn, a further gravitational mass has been added to the interplay of volumes among the trees. The garden remains the locus of identity, where the refurbished Pressoir (press-house) and the new Grange (barn) articulate an interstitial court in the uninterrupted landscape. The layout of each house is structured around a generous-sized room that serves as a social hub for the people living in both houses. Thus, the two houses can be inhabited as one common place. Likewise, each house can be individually occupied, as both Grange and Pressoir are suited as work-and- living environments with a plan that plays on interstitial thresholds of voids, doors, curtains and sliding panels that gradually negotiate between public and private spheres.

Ground floor of the refurbished Pressoir (left) and of the new Grange (right).

The two buildings orient themselves towards the Lemanic landscape, opening views onto the vineyards and the surrounding orchard.

Through the use of materials, the renovated house holds on to its heritage.

Building characteristics
  • Building typology
  • Construction type
    New and refurbishment
  • Year of construction
  • Energy reference surface
    590 m²
  • Energy index
    67.2 kWh/m²a (heating and warm water)
  • Energy labelling
Active solar surface 227m²
Active solar surface ratio >75%
Peak power 21.9 kWp
Building skin application Solar tiles
Energy production
Source: Hochparterre AG - Solaris #2
Building skin
  • Application
    Steel exoskeleton, rafter roof mounted on steel substructure, wood-steel hybrid intermediate ceiling.
  • Description
    Pitched steel structured roof insulated with mineral wool panels.
  • U value
  • Fastening system
    Flat rail mounting
  • Other

The solar roof is designed as a three-dimensional metal structure.

  • Stone walls (refurbished Pressoir) and framed wooden structure (new Grange)
  • Description
    The stone walls of the renovated building are internally insulated while the building envelope of the new building is completely composed of large wooden framed windows
  • U value
  • Fastening system
  • Other

The new house’s building envelope is made of a steel roof’s structure and wooden framed windows.

  • Application
  • Description
    Triple glazing with wooden frame
  • U value
  • g value
  • Other

The perimeter surface of the building is largely transparent.

The press-house is fully refurbished while maintaining its original structure, walls and carpentry.

BIPV module
  • Product
    Custom made
  • Manufacturer
    Antec solar GmbH
  • Cell technology
  • Front glass type/customization
    Bronze-coloured Kromatix solar glass
  • Dimensions
    250x1000mm; 250x660mm; 250x330mm
  • Specific power
  • Specific weight
Technical details

The building, the roof, the facade as well as the technology, merge into a distinctive multifunctional architectural solar envelope. Amidst the externally visible and supporting exoskeleton, which defines the shape of the house, there are 890 modules in three different lengths, each with up to six mono-crystalline photovoltaic cells between the double glass supports, fixed to a secondary metal structure with a simple clamping structure. These PV modules are complemented with 311 dummy modules to create a uniform appearance of the surfaces between the exoskeleton. For a better energy yield, the modules on the southwest and northeast facing roof surfaces were oriented to the south, resulting in a solar roof power output of 21.9 kWp.

Hotspot image
Vertical section – Roof ridge
Hotspot image
  • Total cost of the building
    3,100,000 CHF (for both houses incl. photovoltaic installation)
  • Cost per m³  
    1,225 CHF/m³ (BKP2)

The modules between the hollow box sections were arranged rhythmically and sloped so that their edge, rather than the shiny surface, is visible. This gives the roof a lively expression, but at the same time harmonises with the tiles of the neighbouring houses.

Parties involved
  • Owner
  • Architect
    Dieter Dietz
  • Photovoltaic consultant
    Esquisse solaire Sàrl
  • Photovoltaic Installer
    Ciel Photovoltaïque
  • Civil engineer
    Schnetzer Puskas
  • Steel construction
    Stahl- & Traumfabrik AG
  • Photo
    Adrien Comte and Mikael Blomfelt, Joël Tettamanti
Awards and recognitions
  • Awards
  • Publications
    Hochparterre Solaris#2 – September 2018 – Fun palace – Axel Simon (in DE, FR, IT)

    Online magazine swiss-architects.com – 11 April 2018 – Zwei Häuser in Chigny, Für eine grosse Gemeinschaft – dieterdietz.org (only in DE)

    Espazium 14 May 2020 – Skelett im Weinberg – March Frochau (only in DE)