House Dembinski | Fribourg

Project: 2017
Mandate: renovation of an urban house in the city of Fribourg
Owner of the project: private
Type of mandate: direct
Architecture: ds architecte
Collaborator(s): Dominique Schmutz
Construction management: maître de l’ouvrage
Photographies: ds architecte
Site area: 117 m2
Useable area: 219 m2

Construction Program

Renovation of an urban semi-detached row house with the creation of three independent units; a studio on the ground floor, an apartment on the first floor and a duplex on the upper levels.


The house renovation project is laid out in the spirit of inward urban densification made possible mainly by converting its roof. The location in the city centre and architectural attractiveness bring qualitative added value to the property.

The leaning of the house against the cliff of St. Michel up to roof level makes it a kind of “wall house.” This particular situation limits the construction of a private external access to the upper floor as a counterpoint to the public space of the street on the ground floor. These two spaces were connected by an external staircase built where an external toilet was previously located.


The transformation of the roof space into a living area gives this architectural project its identity and results in an exceptionally spatial situation, including an exterior extension on the St. Michel side. The living room, dining room and kitchen are logically connected directly to this space which justifies elevating the roof.


Carried out according to current standards and requirements in terms of natural lighting, surfaces and heights, this renovation not only provides habitable living conditions, but also a significant improvement of the building’s thermal balance. The renovation respects the character of the site thanks to the usage of traditional materials, terracotta tiles, mineral plaster, copper, and historic windows made based on current thermal and acoustic standards.

The building is located in a protected zone, but is not listed in the cultural heritage inventory. An exception for the partial elevation of the roof on the rear side of the building is justified because the facade concerned is not visible from the public domain. Consequently, the transformation has no impact on the character of the protected site. A contemporary architectural review of certain elements makes it possible to meet current conditions of density and housing, without preventing the enhancement of certain historical elements considered interesting, such as the metal windows on the ground floor.

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