Holidays in a monument
In Holidays in a monument foundation is committed to the sensible and sustainable preservation of historically valuable houses in Switzerland and sees itself as an interface between gentle tourism and careful preservation of monuments. Since 2005, the foundation has been able to renovate more than 50 monuments, pursuing the idea of home protection and the preservation of regional histories and traditions.
Nancy Wolf who at Holidays in a monument is responsible for marketing & communication, answers a few questions about the foundation and its understanding of sustainability:
What made you decide to set up the Holidays in a Monument Foundation?
In Switzerland you will find a wide variety of monuments in a small area: traditional farmhouses, town houses, witnesses of industrialization and unique examples of modern architecture. We consider monuments to be important components of intact townscapes and landscapes, because they conserve history and create identity. However, since they often do not meet today's housing requirements, they are often threatened.
Sustainable forms of use are therefore required to preserve them. For this reason, the Swiss Heritage Society, which has been committed to the built cultural heritage since 1905, set up the Holidays in a Monument Foundation in 2005. Since then, as a foundation, we have been able to save over 50 monuments from decay, demolition or vacancy and support many owners of historical objects in repairing their houses according to our model.
How do you get hold of the vacant houses that are about to be demolished or decay and how does the further process look like up to the fully restored object?
Since our founding, we have been able to establish a high profile in monument protection and architecture circles. In addition, we regularly receive inquiries from people who report endangered objects to us or who own a monument that they would like to restore and/or rent out with our help. Each monument is examined individually by us and a decision is made together with the owner as to whether it can be included in our range or whether another solution can be found for its preservation. This process should not be underestimated. There are always several years between the registration of a monument, the financing and repair up to its inclusion in our offer.
To what extent do you think sustainability and tourism go together?
Sustainability is an important topic for us. The construction industry contributes a lot to the high level of environmental pollution due to the frequent demolition of existing buildings and new buildings. We, on the other hand, extend the life cycle of the houses by sensibly preserving them and conserve resources by renovating and adding to what already exists, for example from component stores.
It is also important to us to work together with architects and craftsmen from the respective regions whenever possible. In this way we want to contribute to keeping old handicraft techniques and knowledge alive. Our guest advisors and caretakers belong to the local population. It is important to us to integrate everyone involved in our concept, because we can only be successful with the support and acceptance of everyone.
This is also our approach to tourism. We bring soft tourism to the regions and give our guests access to the local history and population through the architecture.
Do the houses differ visually, in terms of philosophy or standard?
Our goal is to enable our guests to experience the full range of Swiss building culture. Our oldest monument is currently a medieval knitted building from the 13th century, the most modern is a city apartment from the 1930s in the Bauhaus style. In between there are more than 700 years of building history. Thus, the houses are visually very different. We would also like to show this diversity.
The experience of spending a week in a medieval wooden house with high doorsteps and a tiled stove for heating is different than in a pompous Art Nouveau villa with stucco ceiling or a rustic stone house. What all houses have in common is that they are equipped with modern kitchens and bathrooms. They are furnished with high-quality furniture and Swiss design classics. Our holiday guests really appreciate the mix of historic buildings and contemporary furnishings.
Our guests are architecture lovers and people with an affinity for design
Who are the guests of your houses and what fascinates them about it?
Our guests are architecture lovers and people with an affinity for design who value the sustainable use of existing buildings and are looking for gentle tourism. They spend their holidays with us primarily because of the monument experience. You will find deceleration and authenticity during your stay in our houses. Many of our monuments are also isolated in nature. This also offers the opportunity to move outdoors and to explore the region starting from the monuments.
Where does the foundation want to be in 5-10 years?
We hope to have saved many more monuments by then and made them tangible for our guests. We hope that our work will anchor awareness of the protection and sensible preservation of historic buildings.
Dear Ms. Wolf, thank you very much for the fascinating insight.
Good Travel Places
These three accommodations from the Holidays in a Monument Foundation show the special feature when original architecture is combined with a modern design approach.
MAISON HEIDI IN SOUBOZ
Im Maison Heidi meets French hospitality with Swiss Alpine flair. At the request of the former owners, the foundation saved the house from permanent decay after it had been vacant for almost eighty years. The farmhouse was built in 1684 and after extensive renovation work it was reopened in 2022. Guests enjoy life in a mountain village (almost) like four hundred years ago. In the morning you will be woken up by cowbells and can experience a magical sunrise.
TÜRALIHUS IN VALENDAS
The Türalihus is a historic town house. Originally built as a farmhouse in 1485, it developed over time and as the owner's wealth grew into a stately baroque town house. The tower-like staircase, which is unique in the region, was added in the 17th century (Türali = turret) and gave the house its name. In order to revitalize the village and stop the steady emigration, the village of Valendas asked the Foundation for support.
Taunerhaus in Vinelz
The Tauner house, which was built in 1850 as a small farmer's house, got its name from its former residents: Until the nineteenth century, small farmers in Switzerland were called "Tauner", derived from day labourers, who, in contrast to the rich large farmers, belonged to the poor lower class. Their farms were so small that the income for their own families was not sufficient, for this reason they also worked as day laborers for large farmers or the church. Since the house is in close proximity to the medieval church, it is assumed that it was leased from the church.
© Photos: Foundation for Holidays in a Monument / Gataric photography