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Traditional Construction, Modern Details: Wood Work by Gion A Caminada

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Architects and builders looking for fresh inspiration in creating beautiful modern structures out of wood should take a look at the career of Gion A. Caminada, a Swiss architect who has focused his life’s work on the village of Vrin in his native region. Caminada uses wood (particularly pine) in unexpected new ways, inside and out, pairing the local tradition with modern aesthetics.

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The architect’s focus lies in exploring how older methods of construction can be transformed for new uses to meet the needs of the present. Swiss alpine tradition is married with a sense of minimalism that perfectly spotlights the beauty of the wood that serves as a primary material for residences, hotels, community centers, observation towers and more. Caminada’s work runs the gamut from grand halls to humble cow sheds.

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This focus goes beyond construction techniques, translating common elements of historical structures in new ways. For example, at a girls’ boarding school in Disentis, Switzerland, Caminada built faceted wooden ‘cuddle corners’ for social congregation, modeled after the benches traditionally built around large stoves in Swiss peasant homes.

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It would be cool to see this combination of local tradition and modern architecture translated in different areas of the world, including the Northeast United States, where a rich history of wooden architecture has its own, very particular personality.


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