The financier Felix von Schumacher commissioned plans from the Aalto office and Swiss architect Alfred Roth for a sixteen-storey apartment block and shopping centre on a large lakeshore site he owned just outside the old town of Lucerne. The assignement was divided so that the Aalto office assumed sole responsibility for the high-rise, Roth for the shopping centre.

Alvar and Elissa Aalto developed the plan of the high-rise block, completed in 1967, from that of the Neue Vahr house in Bremen. Again, the wedge-shaped apartments are grouped in a fan arrangement, with the tip facing the stairs and lifts on the service side and the wide main facade facing the lake and the Alps. All flats have large atrium balconies protected from outside view.

Schönbühl differs from Neue Vahr, however, in that the Aaltos here demonstrated that prefabricated wall units can be used to build an entirely individual house liberated from the straitjacket of right angles. Another difference is that the dwellings vary greatly in size, ranging from von Schumacher’s nine-room penthouse apartment with roof garden and several six-room luxury flats to tiny studio flats.

On the ground floor is a large vestibule with direct access to the shopping centre, garage and surrounding park. There, also, are a restaurant seating 90 guests and various support rooms.

More information on Alvar Aalto Foundation website.

Location

25 Langensandstrasse, Lucerne, Switzerland
47.0369368, 8.3290478

Images

Main facade, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Main facade, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© Mikko Merckling / Alvar Aalto Museum)
Entrance, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Entrance, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© O. Pfeifer / Alvar Aalto Museum)
Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© O. Pfeifer / Alvar Aalto Museum)
West entrance, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
West entrance, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© O. Pfeifer / Alvar Aalto Museum)
Ground floor, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Ground floor, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Floor plan, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Floor plan, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© Alvar Aalto Museum)
Interior drawing, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre
Interior drawing, Schönbühl Apartment House and Commercial Centre (© Alvar Aalto Museum)

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