Swiss Architect, Leo Hafner (1924-2015) was a modernist through and through. He was responsible for a number of commissions within the city of Zug, Switzerland, most notably the head office of the Zuger Kantonalbank which he designed when he was only 25 years old with fellow architect Alfons Wiederkehr. The building remains on Postplatz today and was carefully renovated in 2015.
Built in 1955 for the Dalcher family, Haus Dalcher was one of a number of private residences designed by Hafner. Overlooking scenic Lake Zug, the property remains with the Dalcher family and care has been taken to preserve many of the home’s original features. Architecture and lifestyle photographer, Taran Wilkhu recently visited Haus Dalcher, a little-known modernist gem in Zug, to commemorate the first anniversary of Hafner’s death.
In addition to educational, religious and commercial buildings, Hafner and Wiederkehr were responsible for the design of a number of detached houses. Alfons Wiederkehr died in 1985, but Hafner continued to run the firm of architects working on many projects including the teachers’ seminary at St Michaels, the Kirchmatt school building, Barnada Seminary in Menzingen, the development of the Herti area along with the St Johanneskirche, Metalli Shopping Centre and the so-called Zugorama at V-Zug to name a few.
Nestled into the hill overlooking Lake Zug, Haus Dalcher was strategically oriented to capitalize on the lake’s legendary sunsets from its multiple decks and patios. Embracing the lush landscape, the angular dwelling seamlessly blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living spaces.
By the 1950’s, midcentury master architects such as Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard were popularizing sunken living areas. Think the step-down living area on The Dick Van Dyke Show, familiar territory for millions of Americansand the focal point of family life in the 1950’s and ’60s. The step-down design in the Dalcher house creates a separate but not isolated feeling from the dining area. The living area’s revealed brick fireplace surround, ceiling cladding and oversized picture windows reflect the family’s commitment to maintaining the home’s original character.
In addition to his architectural aptitude, Hafner was also an accomplished painter and sculptor. A founding member of the Zug Art Society, he was passionate about both art and architecture and made a significant contribution to the Kunsthaus Zug over many years.
The Dalcher family has remained true to the dwelling’s original design, maintaining the natural materials and keeping their furniture choices subdued and eclectic to highlight the architecture and home’s picturesque views.
Hafner himself continued to work in partnership with Georg Krummenacher and Widerkehr’s sons, Rolf and Alphons, the latter of whom said how much he owed to Hafner. “I learned so much from him and still benefit from all he taught me today. He was the best teacher one could have possibly had,” he said, adding how his tutor was very much for bringing an artistic element into any building he designed.