HIRT kinetics®
  • SF XL
Project Partner
  • Acomet SA
  • Albrecht Schnabel

A dream comes true with HIRT kinetics®

The rising wind preceding a change in the weather; the unmistakable scent of rain in May; the sound of raindrops falling on leaves and water… To experience these with all your senses, while still being safe from the elements is a dream which comes true with HIRT kinetics®.

A symphony of nature

Khalil Gibran once said, “Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.” This parklike property in Montreux, situated right on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, is characterised by massive plane trees. They look out across the lake and withstand storm and snow. One must wonder what these giant trees have experienced in their long lives.

In the recent past, a new building was constructed at their feet, in the western part of the property which is itself surrounded by vineyards. In order for the villa to fit unobtrusively into the green ambience at the water’s edge, which is decorated with works of art, architects Brauen and Wälchli decided upon an unassuming, light grey concrete façade with lots of glass. The transparent material captures the special lighting of Lake Geneva and provides a perfect canvas for its reflections. In this way, new and fascinating interactions with lake and landscape arise all the time.

The ceiling-height window fronts move as if weightless. To achieve this, they are placed on a support structure which is balanced by counterweights.

Clever: When the HIRT kinetics® retractable fronts are lowered halfway, the resulting cap lends itself to use as a bar counter. Just the place to serve a cool drink in style.

Perfectly structured: Simple elegance through and through

Due to its basic cube shape, the building itself is very simple and defined by elegant openness – with many an unconventional twist. For instance, you reach the roof via a concrete bridge from the street before descending from there to the ground floor. Again and again, the building’s individual levels reveal new vistas of Lake Geneva and the park with its aged plane trees and modern art. This contrast between the old and the new is something special all on its own.

The heart of the building can doubtlessly be found on the ground floor. This is also where the house’s true “magic” hides: The floor-to-ceiling windows, which at first glance might look like ordinary glass fronts, lower into the ground and vanish completely at the press of a button. Their secret: they are HIRT kinetics® SF XL retractable fronts. They can be lowered on two sides of the living room, turning it into a covered terrace within seconds. Now, the interior opens seamlessly onto the garden and all the way to the lake. The plane trees rustle in the wind, the waves lick gently against the shore, and the season’s fragrance enchants the senses. The garden’s magic immediately fills the entire living area. Experiencing nature with all your senses like this is a gift, and a balm for the soul.

The room changes its dimensions and plays with the senses. Is it a living room or a covered terrace? The answer: It is both – according to your mood and the weather.

The evening unfolds its magic at the lake. With HIRT kinetics® retractable fronts, you stay flexible and decide according to the weather if you want the window fronts lowered or raised.

Back to the roots

Sadly, in modern everyday life, nature recedes ever more into the distance. We barely remember how the air tastes shortly before a warm rain shower. We rarely listen to the sound of raindrops pattering on leaves. When was the last time you’ve felt a breath of wind against your bare feet?

With HIRT kinetics®, you decide when it is time to bring nature into your own home: In fine weather, you lower the retractable windows; and when the weather is unkind, you simply keep them closed and stay warm and cosy indoors. Thanks to HIRT moving architecture®, builders, designers and architects need not make any compromises. The precise technology made in Switzerland can easily move glass fronts measuring 20 meters in length and weighing several tons – almost as if the laws of physics didn’t apply. By the way: It is not merely window fronts which can be moved like this. Gates, fences, and even entire walls can be made to vanish as if by magic with HIRT moving architecture®.

All components have proven themselves even under extreme weather conditions. Neither salty air, nor icy cold, or tropical heat can do them harm. HIRT moving architecture® meets all requirements of modern and sustainable building. HIRT kinetics® retractable fronts adapt to your needs: While sound insulation, water tightness, and storm resistance are always a given, you decide whether you want additional features such as shatterproof glass, triple glazing, or nano sealing. In each case, HIRT technology satisfies the highest safety standards.

Think the familiar in new and dynamic ways, and you will reach surprising solutions which touch the most important thing: your heart!

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Alan AdamsCEO, Essential Company

About the Architects

Ueli Brauen and Doris Wälchli

Ueli Brauen began his career as a civil engineer in the Sultanate of Oman, where he managed irrigation projects for the Ministry of Agriculture. After studying architecture and working as an independent architect for several years, he founded Brauen Wälchli Architectes with Doris Wälchli. Away from the office, he works as an instructor at various architecture schools in Switzerland and abroad. He is a member of the Board of Education of the Swiss SEA and a member of the board of Werk, Bauen + Wohnen magazine.

Doris Wälchli studied architecture at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and subsequently worked for offices in Barcelona and Lucerne before founding Brauen Wälchli Architectes in collaboration with Ueli Brauen. She has taught at various architecture schools in Switzerland and internationally. She is currently chairwoman of the CUB, the Fondation Culture du Bâti, former chairwoman of the Geisendorfer Foundation for Architecture and a member of the Lucerne Urban Planning Committee and chairwoman of the Bern Urban Planning Committee.

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