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École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

Dieter Dietz with 1st year students BA architecture (2016)

team ALICE: Daniel Zamarbide, Raffael Baur, Edouard Cabay, Laurent Chassot, Nicolas Dürr, Margherita Del Grosso, Alexa den Hartog, Stéphane Grandgirard, Patricia Guaita, Agathe Mignon, Rudi Nieveen, Andrea Pellacani, Laura Perez Lupi, Anne-Chantal Rufer, Jaime Ruiz, Wynd van der Woude with Thibault Smith

Lead engineer timber construction:

Rémy Meylan, architect & wood engineer, Whood x Mug

Sponsored by:

Getaz-Miauton SA, Debrunner Acifer SA Romandie, Marti Construction SA, Roth échafaudages SA, E.S. Echafaudages Services SA, Jardin botanique de Lausanne


HOUSE 1 came into being under the auspices of the Faculty of Architecture at EPFL, as a joint project by over 200 students in their first year. It was initiated and planned by the faculty’s Atelier de la Conception de L’Espace (Spatial Planning Studio), which sees space as being an interface between human and technological processes. Within the architecture course the project served as an experimental format for cooperative design and construction. The house was programmed as a series of mutually contextualising spaces within a defined framework – measuring 11×11×11 metres, and using timber frame construction, based on the balloon frame principle. So the spatial experience that HOUSE 1 offers has nothing in common with what you would expect from a consistently homogeneous form of architecture. Instead it resembles an unfolding process of evolution. Space itself is called in question here, oscillating between different possibilities and showing itself open to different interpretations.

Comments of the nominators

As a successful building experiment, the project is impressive. By contrast with buildings that follow a master plan, HOUSE 1 resulted from the interaction of several teams. After each of the teams had defined an independent and self-sufficient space, the next step was to engage in dialogue, with the aim of developing a connected and mutually interpenetrating structure within the prescribed framework.

Comments of the nominators

HOUSE 1 came into being under the auspices of the Faculty of Architecture at EPFL [the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne], and it already makes an impression just in terms of its physical appearance and sculptural appeal. But the jury believes that the project is even more deserving of an accolade in view of its outstanding didactic aspects. In an era of highly sophisticated drawing and rendering programs which do so much of the architect’s work for him, this freshly dreamed up first-semester project was designed to confront the students with the fundamental questions of architectural design and structural realisation. By taking part in a clearly defined practical exercise, they can learn to see the space of the building as the interface of human and technical/ structural processes, so familiarising themselves with the actual complexity of the design process in an almost playful way.