Die Zeitgenossenschaft des Alten im Engadin

The contemporaneity of the ancient in the Engadine


Architecture: Hans-Jörg Ruch
Born in 1946 in Bellach, Switzerland, he graduated in architecture at the ETH in Zurich in 1971 and in 1973 he obtained a Master Degree in Architecture at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, USA where he has become a visiting professor since 1990. From 1974 to 1977 he worked in Switzerland with the Obrist and Partners studio. He has collaborated with the architect Urs Hüsler since 1977. In 1989 he established his own studio in St. Moritz, which became Ruch & Partners Architects Ltd. in 2010.
Photography: Filippo Simonetti
Born in Ascoli Piceno in 1944. After completing a degree in literature and philosophy at the University of Urbino, he made his passion for architecture and photography into his profession. His works have been shown at a great many exhibitions, including the VI. and the XV. Architecture Biennale in Venice in 1996 and 2016. He lives in Brunate.
Keywords: Engadine, heritage, contemporary architecture, arts
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The Engadinerhaus is a typical historic Engadine collective building that combines all the functions of a farm and a residence into a single housing system. It is characterized by a distribution and structural scheme organized according to certain principles that give the artifacts an imposing and severe external appearance. These are very old buildings whose matrix can be placed between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries and which have undergone numerous transformations over time in order to adapt them to the changing needs of the agricultural world. The historical and documentary value of these important testimonies is already recognized at the beginning of the twentieth century and in 1905 the “Bündner Heimatschutz” is already promoting their protection in order to preserve their architectural and building features. The architect Hans-Jörg Ruch has recently worked on some projects for the re-functioning and restoration of these extraordinary buildings, which in some cases have kept their residential use, while in other cases they have been converted into exhibition spaces and art galleries. The buildings presented in this essay – such as the Chesa Andrea in Madulain, the Chesa Büsin in Silvaplana, the Chesa Madalena in Zuoz, the Chesa Merleda in La Punt, the Chesa Not in Tschlin and the Chesa Perini in S-Chanf – are just one selection of the works realized in Engadine by Ruch. New interior volumes, such as a “house in the house”, or even veils and walls with shapes and materials that strongly reveal their contemporaneity, are inserted in the original spaces of the old building left unaltered.  These interventions show an unprecedented and original dialectic between the preservation of the materic character of the historical artifact and the unveiling of new meanings and spatiality, through architectural, constructive and material solutions affected by contemporary artistic procedure. 
The texts are taken from the book «Close-up - Ruch & Partner Architects 1994-2018» edited by Scheidegger & Spiess, 2018.