Engadine house

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Engadine house ( Schellenurslihaus ) in Guarda with the two entrance gates in the living area and stable
Engadine house with sgraffiti by Steivan Liun Könz in Sur En

The Engadine house is a type of farmhouse from the Engadine , Vinschgau and Tyrolean Oberinntal .

Typical of the Engadine house are the massive stone walls, which are often decorated with the sgraffito technique, the deep rows of windows, the bay window and the two entrance gates to the Sulèr and the stable at the front.

It is a three-story residential stable house .


An Engadine house usually consists of several building epochs and has been continuously expanded and stocked according to the needs of the addition principle. The new house was built on the old foundation walls of the houses destroyed by war and fire.


Little is known about the Engadine house from Roman times to the medieval age of castles. What is certain is that square tower houses or rectangular hall houses developed by the 12th century. Since these buildings are mostly one-room, the residents sleep and live in the same room. In one corner there is a recess in the outer wall through which the smoke from the fireplace can escape. Such stone buildings are massive and fireproof and survive many wars and village fires. The stables, presumably made of wood, are located a little apart from the living area.

Walls of what was once a two-story residential tower with a passage to a second room, on the left a reinforcing wall in the event of a later expansion


A cellar is built under the living room with fireplace, which is completely or half buried. A high entrance leads into the living room. The bedroom is located above the living room. Often this is also next to the furnace as a rope structure on piles or low foundations. The bedroom and living room have separate entrances.


As the houses are rebuilt after wars or fires, the individual elements are moving closer and closer together and new ones are being added. In the basement there is now a courtyard (cuort), which can be reached through a steep driveway, pantries and stables. The three rooms remain on the ground floor. These can be reached through a steep staircase from the courtyard and a small corridor. The original bedroom is being moved from the ground floor to the upper floor, where a bedroom is located in the continuation of the knitted structure. The room on the ground floor is now used as a living room. For the first time, the living room and fireplace are separated. The stable with the barn above is attached to the fire house and roofed over. Later, the half-underground courtyard with access to cellars and storage rooms will also be roofed over. So you get to the kitchen and living room at ground level. The rooms on the first floor are connected to one another by an arbor and to the ground floor by a steep staircase. The farmer drives into the barn above the hay barn over the gently sloping roofing of the yard. Finally, a pantry is installed between the kitchen and the barn. The structure described forms the basis of the classic Engadine farmhouse to this day.


The Engadine house was exported from the Inn Valley to the neighboring valleys Albula , Bergell , Surses , Paznaun and Val Müstair .

Well-known villages with Engadine houses are in

Interesting Engadine houses include the Scuol rectory , the Chasa Baer-Gaudenz and the Chesa Planta (Samedan) .

Grouping of houses in a village

Plazetta part of the village in Ardez

The Engadine house is seldom perceived as a single building; mostly it is related to the surrounding houses. When the Engadine villages were razed to the ground by various wars and then rebuilt, the houses moved closer and closer together. For better defense and security, the villages were built as narrow as possible. Since then, the individual houses have been facing each other around small squares with a fountain in the middle. According to the Romanesque cooperative village and economic organization, they face the village square or the street and not the sun.

These parts of the village (vachers) have certain grazing rights and are also responsible for the maintenance of their well. All entrances to such a well shaft or part of the village emanate from the same place and this is also visible through all room windows. However, since the hay wagons (tragliun) have to drive through the living area to the hayloft and therefore need an entrance at right angles, they are often built twisted. Every house has an individual floor plan.


The house consists of a living and working part one behind the other (stable, barn). The farm section with the hayloft faces south if possible so that the hay can dry well and haystack fires that could be dangerous for the village can be prevented. The typical vertical wooden walls have ventilation slots that ensure good ventilation of the hay.

The solid-looking stone houses are mostly wooden houses at their core. The walls, made of wooden beams, were only given a coat of walling when they were seated and the wood was well dried out. Their thickness can be seen on the deep funnel-like window niches. On the street side, the business part is walled, with artificial or painted windows etc., while on the side facing away from the street it is mainly made of wood. The upper gate (ground floor: living area, barn access) and lower (lower floor: stable) are on the gable side of the house. If the house is close to the street, the access to the stable is on the eaves side .

Jewelry shapes

The Engadine houses are known for their house paintings and sgraffito ornaments. The gable facades in particular are decorated with the sgraffito technique from Italy, which was perfected in the Engadine. There are ornately decorated and painted bay windows and house gates in rococo carvings. The coats of arms, painted on, made of granite or in splendid marble are the pride of the house. With the help of homeland security, some house facades could be given their former face again.

The roof gables are another form of decoration. The curved Senter gables are named after the Engadine village Sent . The stepped gables, unknown in the Engadin, come from Tyrol.

In the past, hanging carnations (mountain hanging carnations , Dianthus caryophyllus) - often also called Engadin hanging carnations (neglas engiadinaisas) - adorned almost every Engadine house. Today these ornamental plants have practically disappeared. In order not to let the splashes of color on the house facades be completely forgotten, ProSpecieRara Switzerland collects old clove varieties.

Floor plan design


Basement floor plan

The lower archway leads into the Cuort , a covered stable yard that gives access to the cattle shed in the rear part of the building under the hay shed (barn), to the chicken coop and to the storage cellars under the kitchen. In the court is the dung heap, cart and sledge. The entire basement is built of thick quarry stone walls and covered with beams and planks made of larch wood .

ground floor

Ground floor plan

The upper gate, which is big enough for a loaded hay wagon (the relatively small hay wagon or tragliun at the time), leads into the Sulèr (piertan), the anteroom for the ground floor rooms , which also allows passage to the barn - which is above the stable. This passage with horse and ox wagons is missing in the manorial house because it was neither desired nor necessary. There is often a bench next to the gate where you can relax after work, where you are not averse to chatting with passers-by.

Along the Sulèr on the entrance side is the Stüva, the living room, behind it the kitchen (chadafö) and a pantry ( chombra or chamineda ). The kitchen floor is on the same level as the Sulèr, the Stüva is one or two steps higher. Opposite the entrance gate, another gate leads to the Eral, a fixed bridge from which the quartas and the hay stages can be reached. The quartas take up the entire width and height of the house and often have a larger area than the living area. They are only accessed via this one. The Sulèr was traditionally a work room in the farmhouse, often also a threshing floor, and in summer it also served as a dining room. In more elegant houses, the Sulèr also had a representative function as an entrance room . In the wooden gate, which is only fully opened during the hay harvest, there is a two-part door, the upper part of which is open in summer.

Room (stüva)

The outside of the room consists of a rough knitted structure . Together with the bedroom above, this was once the only living part of the house. In homes after 1600 the room is inside with Arve paneled and decorated. The ceiling, which, like the floor, is made of wood, rests on a frame about 20 cm high over a wooden frieze . It is supported by a central beam. Next to the door and on the wall to the kitchen there is a large brick oven, which is heated from the kitchen and warms the whole house. Right next to it is the hatch to the kitchen. In between there is a folding table. Behind the stove, a small steep staircase leads to the bedroom on the upper floor. Between the door and the window wall stands the buffet, which is often walnut-tree and, depending on the wealth of the owner, richly carved or delicately inlaid.

In the traditional Stüva, the rear part of the stove was separated by a grid or a curtain and served to dry clothes and shoes as well as a dressing room in front of the unheated bedroom. If the view of the fountain requires this, a small bay window is attached to the outer wall .

Kitchen (chadafö)

House with oven on the outside wall in Guarda

Until the 19th century, the kitchen was the only place in the house where a fire was kindled. Next to the fire hole and the hatch in the room is the stove. On the outer wall, an oven often protrudes from the facade when there is not enough space in the kitchen. Since the fireplaces did not have their own smoke vent for a long time, the kitchen was blackened with soot and also served as a smokehouse. Some houses have a small hole below the kitchen ceiling that served as a fireplace. Elsewhere, the smoke withdrew through the Sulèr . Besides the table and cupboard, there was no other furniture in the kitchen.

Storage chamber (chaminada)

The pantry is usually a little more spacious than the kitchen and has a vaulted or wooden ceiling. Here food was stored in chests or on (mouse-safe) logs under the ceiling.

Upper floor (palatschin)

The upper floor is also reached by a lockable staircase on the back of the Sulèr and was originally open to the roof and the barn. In the course of time, the economy and living areas were separated by a gate. The bedroom is located above the living room. Above the kitchen and pantry, there are additional pantries or bedrooms for servants, etc. In the houses of rich families there is a state room (stüva sura) in the open space opposite the other rooms. In order to prevent space problems when merging goods (e.g. when getting married), the hay barn could be extended above the sleeping chambers in some houses. Small ventilation windows testify to this.

Builders and Architects

The stately Engadine houses go back to the Graubünden noble families, such as von Salis and von Planta and the village nobility, who became rich through foreign military service and offices in the Graubünden valley areas. The successful Engadine confectioners who returned to their homeland also built numerous Engadine houses and palazzi.

The architects Nicolaus Hartmann (1880–1956) and Iachen Ulrich Könz (1899–1980) made outstanding contributions to the Engadine house as architects, restorers and authors.

The Engadine house today

Like most traditional Alpine buildings, the Engadine house is in danger of disappearing. In the Upper Inn Valley, in particular, it was largely replaced by hotel buildings in the so-called Alpine style . In the Engadin and Vinschgau no new Engadine houses are being built either, but here attention was paid to the preservation of the picturesque townscape, which enabled many villages to save their typical appearance in our time. In new buildings in the Upper and Lower Engadine, the so-called Engadine style dominates , which includes various characteristics of the Engadine house (window lines, sgraffito technology, arched gates). In the Vinschgau and also in the Engadine, efforts are being made to preserve the Engadine design and adapt it to modern living requirements, so that these houses can be integrated well into the landscape.


Chasa Jaura Museum in Valchava
  • The Lower Engadine Museum in the Engadine House Chà Gronda (Big House) in Scuol Sot shows, among other things, the entire inventory of the traditional Engadine house with all the rooms and the former agricultural equipment of the Lower Engadine.
  • The Museum Alpin in Pontresina has dedicated a permanent exhibition to the Engadine house. The Engadine Museum in St. Moritz houses interiors from the Engadine and covers a period from the 13th to the 19th century. The collection ranges from rooms from different centuries, a state hall of a patrician house, a smoke-blackened rural Engadine kitchen to a four-poster bed from the time of the plague.
  • The Bergün local museum is also located in an old Engadine house, which was built in the 16th century and whose rooms and facilities were largely left in their original state.
  • The Stamparia Museum in Strada in the Engadine , housed in an Engadine house, was a printing works for important Romanesque literature until 1880.
  • In the Chasa Jaura Museum in Valchava , contemporary art and historical living and living in the Münstertal are shown.


  • Iachen Ulrich Könz: The Engadine House. Edited by Alfred Schneider. Swiss homeland books, Bündner series, 2nd volume. Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern 1952/1966/1994, mainly illustrations, ISBN 3-258-04826-6 .
  • Duri Gaudenz: The Engadine House. In: Hans Hofmann: Lower Engadine. Calanda Verlag, Chur 1982.
  • Tino Walz: Living in old Engadine houses. Exposicon, Zuoz 1995, 3rd, expanded edition, mainly illustrations.
  • Christoph Simonett: The farmhouses in the canton of Graubünden. 2 volumes. Edited by the Swiss Society for Folklore. GSK, Basel 1983, ISBN 3-85775-351-X .
  • Leza Dosch: The Balthasar von Planta house in Ardez, an Engadine house and its renovation by Iachen Ulrich Könz and Steivan Liun Könz. Bündner monthly newspaper 2007, issue 1, ISSN  1011-6885 .


Web links

Commons : Engadinerhaus  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ From: Duri Gaudenz: Das Engadiner Haus. In: Hans Hofmann: Lower Engadine. Calanda Verlag, Chur 1982.
  2. For the problem of obtaining, see: Susanna Fanzun: Da vender: chasa engiadinaisa (“For sale: Engadinerhaus.”) Documentary  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Romansch with dt. subtitles) at Televisiun Rumantscha 2010, accessed March 22, 2013.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.rtr.ch