The Rentsch House cuts quite a modest shape from the entrance-side. A set of gradual steps quietly curve towards the door, nothing too flashy.
Designed by hugely influential modernist architect Richard Neutra, and on the outskirts of Wengen, the approach is deceptive. This is a deeply monumental and impressive house which really makes the most of its impressive view of the Eiger-Monch-Jungfrau mountain massif.
The central element in this emphasis is the wood ceiling, which dominates the open plan area. This sheer pale brown surface of beautifully joined and polished panels appears deliberately arranged to highlight the sun as its light pours in from the spectacular mountain scene beyond. It’s a characteristic Neutra touch, forcing mighty nature to extend well into the interior of the house.
Several aspects of the layout bring the ceiling into even starker relief. The wooden supporting beams, polished to match the ceiling and situated closer to the ground, lead the viewers gaze upward. So too does the sparseness of the floor layout of furniture, which features just a single, solitary lounge chair and mini coffee table in the middle.
The house is finished in a consistent palette of white, occasional black, and the pale brown of the wood panels. Meanwhile the furniture and other artworks lend welcome touches of colour throughout.
Speaking of the furniture pieces, the pieces featured really run the gamut of modernist design. There are pieces by early modernists, such as the aforementioned lounge chair, an original LC4 designed by Le Corbusier in 1928, and Mies van der Rohe’s MR Knoll Chair, several of which surround the dining table. Meanwhile there are a pair of Butterfly chairs by Argentinian modernists Bonet-Kurchan-Ferrari and one of Dutch designer Wim Rietveld’s 116 chairs.
What could be quite a bombastic design, is brought back down to earth by the clean modernism of this array of furniture, finishing off a truly remarkable design.
Photos by Iwan Baan