House Research: Villa Vals Earth House

by Sherry Riter in New Home  

Nestled in the Swiss Alps in a village called Vals is a house that is mostly hidden underground. It is a place that can be rented for a lovely vacation. The Villa Vals earth house has split stone on the facade of the one open end of the building and the rest of the house is completely underground. The stone for the front was excavated from the site during construction which makes it even more unique.

“Local builders excavated 36 feet into the side of the hill and poured a reinforced concrete retaining wall.” Then they built a 2 1/2 story high, 52′ x 26′ box with a concave front. This ensured that the view across the valley remains open from all the buildings and the baths.

The only structure that sticks up from the ground is a barn that was retained. It was converted to a mud room and connected it to the house with a 72′ long stepped concrete tunnel.

Living underground obviously means that the home is extra insulated and protected from the wind, but it also supposedly triggers “an almost primal feeling of security” which sounds really appealing to me.

The 1700 square foot home uses only hydroelectric power. Another very interesting feature of Villa Vals is that it has radiant flooring. There are several advantages to using radiant floor heat and one of them is that it is more efficient since no energy is lost through the ducts like it is in forced-air heating. I also found that hydronic radiant floors are the most cost-effective because they use very little electricity. The radiant floors can be powered by solar water heaters or gas, oil or wood-fired boilers. All of it is very intriguing.

I totally love the photographs of Villa Vals and all were taken by the talented Iwan Baan











Are you impressed?


The Redhead Riter

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Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tractor Mom October 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm



2 By Word of Mouth Musings October 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Love all the wood and the dining room table is amazing … bedroom with the concrete would freak me out a little tho … but its quite lovely overall!


3 Blue Cotton Memory October 7, 2011 at 12:36 am

I want one, too! Simply Beautiful!


4 Suzanne McClendon October 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I think it is beautiful and an awesome design. I like the energy aspects and earthiness of it. However, I would have to spend most of my time outside because of claustrophobia. The concrete bedroom would be an issue for me as it is for Musings. Beautiful, nonetheless!

Have a great day, Red!


5 katlupe October 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I like earth houses, and passive solar houses, that are partially in the ground. In fact, I have two friends who have built, or are in the process of building one. This one in the Swiss Alps is nothing like their houses though! That is too modern for me.


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