Door 17: Armando Ruinelli

Photography © Marcello Mariana

We have a big soft spot for architecture that blends in, uses existing structures to create something new. Said so, one tends to rather think of urban structures, like Arno Brandlhuber does, but that this can also be the case in rural areas, without being dated or pseudo-traditional, shows the Swiss architect Armando Ruinelli.

Born in 1954 in Soglio close to the Italian border, he left his hometown aged 16 to do an apprenticeship as a construction engineer in Zürich. Despite all of his colleagues, he decided not to continue his studies but rather come back to his hometown to find out what he wants. In Graubünden, the area of his hometown, there was no architectural association, so you did not need an academic degree to become an architect, so step by step he became an architect.

Studio Ruinelli, Soglio, 1988, Armando Ruinelli © Ralph Feiner

He opened his own practice in Soglio in 1982 and started with smaller projects like drawings for a cemetery wall or a hut and in 1988 his own studio, which he considers his first proper own project. This already was a blueprint for his working practice, especially his use of local topography and untreated materials, that change with age, which others would avoid.

He sees his work as a dialogue between the contemporary and tradition and thereby avoiding the pseudo-traditional style that is so dominant in the Alps. Another key factor for him is craftsmanship, which for him is an essential tool in his practice. Here he also combines the traditional techniques with new expertise. Still active today, he won several times the Häuser AWARD and Best Architects Award and despite not having a degree in architecture teaches regularly at various schools, all over Europe.

Casa RM - © Ruinelli Associati