Workshop Hodel Altishofen

A young craftsman commissioned us to build a workshop on a small parcel of land. The land, containing beautiful fruit trees, was on the grounds of an old sawmill. Spreading out around the old stone main building was a constantly changing city of stacks of planks.


We did not want to injure this landscape of old, stable, and also mobile parts through an additional building with a foundation, windows, and a roof. For that reason we designed the workshop as a fragile, mobile, partitioned area from seven, large prefabricated wood panels. The construction lies simply on open, concrete beams. The panels—a self-supporting frame—lean against and support one other like a house of cards. Light penetrates through gaps between the panels and holes. Doors are not visible, "windows" are perforations, the roof trails off into the garden, and entire walls can be shifted to the side. Through this, the interior transforms into a yard. And by moving the walls over one another, the Melnikov openings lower the incidence of light like camera diaphragms. 

The joining of the wood elements dismisses all tendencies to perfectionism and displays the building parts as individual boards, as it were, like in a child’s tree house where windows are simply the gaps between walls that have been fairly well nailed together. Similar to the Stuag Project, the structure avoids an expression of conventional architecture, preferring the doubtful stability of difficult to identify pieces that stand in an open, vague relationship to one another. The design likewise examines whether the coincidence and fragility of an everyday atmosphere that has evolved on a rural yard can live on in a new architecture.  

Ten years later we were invited to the "Parasite" exhibition in Holland where the provisional and subversive was the object of urbanist strategies. We showed the "Hodel House" as a readymade for a situationist urbanism. It was realized as an information center and community pavilion in a huge satellite city outside of Rotterdam, and will give way to a completely new plan. 

Location: Altishofen

Project: 1989

Client: private

Meili, Peter Architekten: Marcel Meili, Markus Peter

Matthias Baumann


«Bauten für Handel und Gewerbe»

Stuttgard 1994

«The presence of things»

Construction, Intention, Detail - Five projects from five Swiss architects, Zürich 1994

«Architekten der deutschen Schweiz»

Sevilla 1992

Parasite: ground plan

Parasite: cross section


Workshop building Altishofen: in a collage-like way, the façade panels bring together various kinds of constructions and wood cladding: plywood panels, beveled weatherboarding, and tongue and groove paneling (airbrush)

Sawmill grounds in Altishofen (1987)

Workshop building, Altishofen: model study

Workshop building, Altishofen: model study in the surroundings of the sawmill (forward projection)