NORMAN FOSTER – DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
“Architecture Is An Expression Of Values.”
“The Best Architecture Comes From A
Synthesis Of All The Elements That Separately
Comprise A Building.”
“As An Architect You Design For The Present ,
With An Awareness Of The Past, For A Future
Which Is Essentially Unknown.”
Born in 1935 in Manchester, England, Sir
Norman Foster is an award-winning and
prolific British architect known for sleek,
modern designs of steel and glass with
innovations in contouring and inner
space management. He was part of the
architectural group Team 4 before
branching off on his own to form what
would eventually be known as Foster +
According to Norman Foster his philosophy has
always been guided by a belief that the quality of
our surroundings has a direct influence on the
quality of our lives, whether that is on the
workplace, at home or in public.
Where his focus lies on is; how architectural design
changes over time to accommodate changes in
technology to how it communicates a city’s past
and present character.
Chesa Futura – The House Of The Future (Roman)
The philosophy behind it was to shows how new buildings can be inserted into the existing grain
at increased densities, while sustaining indigenous building techniques and preserving the
It fuses state-of-the-art (modern or the latest) computer design tools with centuries-old
construction techniques to create an environmentally sensitive apartment building.
DESIGN PHILOSOPHY - CHESA FUTURA
Chesa Futura Apartment Via Tinus 25, 7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Co-ordinates: 46°29'57N 09°50'15E
SITE ACCESS: There are two ways of accessing the site, one by road
and the other by stairs which allows pedestrians to easily move
about the hilly slopes and a shortcut to directly access main road.
LAKE ST. MORITZ
Chesa Futura is located in St. Moritz which is a high Alpine Resort in Switzerland, at an elevation of
about 5,910 ft above sea level. St. Moritz lies on the southern slopes of the Albula Alps it overlooks the
flat and wide glaciated valley of the Upper Engadine and the Lake of St. Moritz.
Agriculture – 26.3%
Forest – 20.0%
Land – 9.0% (Buildings and Roads) and 44.8% (Unproductive Land)
The site is located on the edge of a steep slope that looks down over St Moritz towards the lake.
Responding to this location and to weather patterns in St Moritz, where snow lies on the ground
for months at a time, there is a tradition of elevating buildings to avoid the danger of wood
decaying due to prolonged exposure to moisture.
Similarly Chesa Futura reinstated this tradition in itself as a result it gave the lower apartments a
good view of the surround which other wise would not have been possible.
VIEW FROM BUILDINGELEVATED FROM GROUND
St Moritz has a Subarctic Climate only just above alpine/polar due to its
elevation with cold, moderately snowy winters and cool, wet summers.
INSPIRATION: FUTURISM MOVEMENT
This building is responsive
to its site in ways that
dictates its form. The form
enables openings to wrap
the building so the vista is
greater than a flat wall.
The design was driven by the views and the orientation, which generated complex lines in space.
According to Foster; “It’s very alive.”
The bubble like form of Chesa Futura, has an organic quality reinforced by its coat of textured wood.
Substantial terraces create sheltered outdoor rooms with breathtaking views of the snow-capped Alps,
while also introducing a rich quality of natural light.
AREA: 4 650 m²
❖ Roof is highly insulated and clad in copper - a traditional local roofing material. High
performance glazing to south elevation.
❖ Hand cut wooden shingle cladding obtained from 80 local trees.
❖ Double-curved timber frame shell highly insulated.
➢ The apartment building has ten apartment buildings.
➢ The building has large windows with balconies to the south.
➢ The building is more closed to the north where it faces the mountains and the coldest
weather, providing insulation through its thermal mass.
➢ The structural frame creates a 40cm-wide cavity that is filled with insulating material.
➢ Small windows are punched into the northern facade. which allows the most amount of light
through the smallest aperture by chamfering the window surround.
CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUESA high degree of pre-fabrication was important because the holiday seasons restrict
construction to eight months of the year.
The foundations consist of a sunken concrete box, which houses the plant
rooms, car parking and storage spaces. Above ground the building is
supported on a lightweight steel 'table' with eight legs. Two concrete cores,
housing the lift shafts and stairwells, provide further stability.
The remaining structure is timber. The frame is constructed from prefabricated
glue-laminated beams - thin sections of wood glued together - with a skin of
plywood sheets. This has many benefits over steel or concrete. The malleability
of wood makes it is easier to achieve the building's doubly-curved shape.
Because timber is lighter than steel it can more easily be delivered to the site,
which is approached by a narrow winding road.
MATERIALS - Exterior
Foster chose timber for the building's exterior for two reasons:
Timber is the indigenous architectural material in the area and it is a renewable resource, aiding the
environment through carbon dioxide consumption while growing.
Secondly, the timber is locally forested, very little energy is used in transporting the material. Over time
the larch shingles will show their age, coloring to blend in with the surroundings, appearing to grow like
the neighboring vegetation.
✓ The building exterior is claded with timber shingles which were cut by hand
and fixed on site. As But the frame and the wall panels were prefabricated in
Germany using advanced CNC machinery.
✓ The roof is made from copper. It is a long local tradition, because it is
sufficiently malleable to be formed on site when the temperature may drop
below twelve degrees.
✓ The building is raised above the ground on raking steel supports called Pilotis.
✓ Glass has been used as a parapet wall for balconies and for the ground floor
wall to give a sense of continuity.
If we analyze the buildings plan and elevation as a whole the shape
appears to be that of a KIDNEY BEAN.
The building's bubble-
like form allows
balconies on the
southern side to open
up to sunlight and
views, while the north
facade is more closed,
punctuated with deep
window openings in
the Engadin tradition.