Lake Rotsee Refuge was designed by AFGH Architekten in Lucern, Switzerland as a facility to house athletes that use the lake for various lake sports such as rowing. The setting is a beautiful one and AFGH did not want to impose upon the landscape with an ornate or flashy exterior, and chose instead to create a 3 story façade of simple elegance that can close up into a private cube or open wide into a viewing station. The final result is an architectural installation with sculptural qualities that transform through usage much the way the landscape transforms through the seasons.
The walls of the athlete refuge are covered in panels that can open wide when in use and for three weeks each year the open version is a constant. Made from prefabricated wood components and supported over a concrete foundation and staircase the 3 story building is as much a spectators paradise as it is an athlete refuge.
From the dock a flight of concrete stairs leads up to the main entrance.
The timbered dock is set on concrete pilings – as is the building itself
Hinged plywood panels that slide and pivot to open wide or close tight create the window shades. When open, the extending panels shade the interior from the intense summer heat.
The window panels close up tight to protect the building from whatever mother nature might throw its way during the off season.
Whether the windows are open or closed, the silhouette is unassuming against the stunning landscape, even when doubled in size through its reflection. The reflection creates a fun ensemble of positive and negative shapes created by the void below the pilings and dock and building itself.
The visual up close is as interesting as it is from a distance. Here, the lake views take centre stage from the colourful entry hall and the exterior observation deck.
The blue entry door adds a jolt of colour in an otherwise neutral interior of treated OSB panels on the walls and timber planks on the floors and ceiling. A wall of open shelves is the perfect place for athletes to store their personal belongings before heading out to the water for practice sessions.
The window wall is designed to be a viewing post when events are taking place or when friends and family are there to support their loved ones as they practice.
For organized events, plywood clad bleachers can be pulled up for a triple tier viewing station.
Each bank of windows has a side window that opens for cross ventilation.
When the events or practice sessions are over, the panoramic views make it hard to leave.
Eventually, everyone must go home and then Lake Rotsee Refuge is closed up tight, resting for the next big event.