on the inclined banks of lake lugano, herzog & de meuron has completed a series of eight villas that form a single, interconnected complex.
the residences, each three to four stories high, follow the site’s steep topography to offer impressive lake views. located in ticino, an italian-speaking region in southern switzerland, the dwellings are sited on the former grounds of villa favorita, a sprawling property built in the 17th century.the eight herzog & de meuron-designed villas are connected with linear, cascading staircases that resemble the stepped paths typically built into the slopes of the neighboring hillsides. living rooms and kitchens are found at garden level, while bedrooms with adjoining terraces are positioned upstairs. from the road to the north, narrow paths lead to the buildings’ separate entrances. meanwhile, a car elevator accesses the underground garage, where all of the residences are connected.
‘the repetitive basic structure of the project is defined by vertical walls placed perpendicular to the slope,’ explain the architects. ‘circular, horizontal, and vertical cutouts are superimposed on this orthogonal order in the form of arches and courtyards. the resulting, geometrically complex spatial fabric creates overlapping inside and outside spaces marked by an unusual play of shadow.’
herzog & de meuron worked with landscape architect michel desvigne who helped ensure that the gardens were incorporated within the overall fabric of villa favorita. as a result, the character of the site has not changed as a result of the intervention. large trees have been carefully preserved, and smaller trees and bushes that did have to be felled have been replaced. the staggered layout of the buildings enhance privacy, while the trees provide shade without blocking views of the lake.