SS 2020 Burning Down the House
Kimberley Berney, Amandine Ischer.

Remembering the House

Burn and break, 1 = 1 the perfect equilibrium.

To us, fire is the triggering element, setting a cascade of surprising events and orchestrated accidents in motion.


A chain reaction ensues, altering, loosening, breaking, shattering parts of the house creating indispensable material for reconstruction, for new possibilities.

A story concerning cause and effect, improbability and precision. The subtle balance cannot stop, without fire no opportunity, without break no solution. A binary principle, the continuous motion of a swinging horse.

Dreams of fire

We can project whatever we wish the fire will do, and let it happen. Perhaps, the fire place, tired of being contained will go dancing around, overflowing.

The flames will leave nothing of the center of the house, carving out a circular double-hight room. Or the fire will expand vertically from the kitchen, amputating the house of a full corner. It could also start in a bedroom, with a forgotten candle, how dramatic, how romantic. Perhaps the fire could even occur mysteriously elsewhere, or even everywhere. The fire could do all of these things, and none. Certainly.

And if we choose and plan, then maybe we’ll be contempt, or bored by the lack of surprise. And if it fails, we might be pleasantly surprised and forget about the initial plan. We’ll embrace the disaster.

But we might have to be brave for some obsessions are hard to forget. Beautifully sinister, a ruin palace emerged from the smoke. Get over it and rebuild, for winter is not over.

Our first burning session was quite meticulously planned, many joints were designed in wood in order for them to break. We played with clay, plaster and wood, thinking the wooden joints of the plaster beams would take fire, making the beams fall and break some other elements on their way down.

The least we can say is that luckily, nothing went as planned.

What happened instead of a slow and precise chain of events went extremely fast. A corner of the House took fire quite violently, but the fire didn’t last long enough for the joints we wanted to break to do so.

Interestingly, the high and spectacular fire died out quite quickly. A much smaller fire went on on the ground floor for long before it completely vani-shed, leaving us with a hole in the floating platform. Maybe an interior bath? In the end, there was much less damage than we tought there would be.

Still, a three storey house without any vertical circulation and a hole in the ground is quite much of a damage.

Quite much of a challenge.

Reminicence = Physical Reality = Dreams = Folie

To us, memory is the triggering element, setting a cascade of surprising drawings and fragments of memories to life.

A creative reaction ensues, altering, loosening, breaking, shattering the physical reality of the house creating indispensable material for reconstruction, for new possibilities.

A story concerning memory and affect, imagination and precision. The subtle balance cannot stop, without memory no opportunity, without imagination no solution.

A binary principle, the continuous motion of a swinging horse.

We see that water, and more precisely the relationship to water and the way to experience it, to meet it, is present in each of our fragments.

Paradoxically, all these moments were triggered by fire.

It was fire that led us to water, against its nature. It is the fire that pierces the floor, that fetches the water to invite it into the house. It is the fire that allows us to discover the intensity of this underground space, to reflect it spatially, to bring it to light.

By consuming this portion of the floor, it is as if fire gave us the answer to a question we have been asking ourselves for a long time; why a floating house? The fire comes to validate the relevance of an intuitive choice, allows us to claim it. This previously non-existent moment becomes perhaps one of the key elements of this project; its entry.

There, we find ourselves in the liminal space between water, house and fire.

Then there is the flying bathtub, which is quite feasible but gives a fantastic aspect to the whole. It offers a double floating experience; in the water and in the air. It picks us up on the ground floor for an introspective journey in the water or in the air? Here again, it is the fire that allows us such an experience. Maybe the bathtub goes down through the hole in the floor to fill up with water.

Everywhere, water is omnipresent, From the moment we open our eyes, the water invites us to dive; a jump, a flight, an impact, an embracing.
Is this really a house where we live for the long term? Or is it a machine for experimenting with water? Who would live there? And why would they live there?


Studio Alex Lehnerer, ETH

Project by: Kimberley Berney, Amandine Ischer