You will find, within the thirteen building groups, characteristic house styles from almost every region of Switzerland. Perhaps it interests you to learn how timber construction developed (building group 6) or you find thatched roofs intriguing (building group 2). Maybe you simply don't want to miss one of the oldest wooden houses in Switzerland (building group 7), or you especially enjoy the southern charm of the stone buildings (building group 8) or perhaps you find alpine huts are particularly interesting (building group 13). A glance at the small map can be of great help.
In order to correct any misapprehensions right from the start, let it be said that there is no such thing as a typically Swiss farmhouse style. The fact that Switzerland is centrally located and thus influenced by different cultures, not only adds to the unique diversity of languages and life styles, but also leads to an impressive variety of building types.
The Jura, Central Midlands and alpine regions represent the principal geographical divisions of the country. In the Upper Jura (Nos. 111, 112, 122), a climatically raw region, cattle farming was predominant. In the Lower Jura (No. 131) a rotating system between fields, meadows, orchards and even vineyards was practised. Whilst farmers of the Jura lived principally in separate farmsteads and hamlets, those in the lower valley areas tended to dwell in enclosed settlements.
The Central Midlands is claimed to be the actual heart of the country (architectural groups 2, 3, 5, 6). A variety of buildings can be found in this hilly and fertile countryside. Some of the most impressive buildings are those with a thatched roof (Nos. 221, 231), of which only a few examples are still preserved.
The block type of construction dominated extensive parts of the Swiss Alps (groups 7-13). In this region, single purpose buildings were primarily to be found where living, farming and working were carried out in several buildings.
The Canton of Ticino (group 8) lies on the southern side of the Alps. The stone buildings which seem to outsiders typical of the Ticino were, in fact, originally limited to the alpine region of the Sottoceneri and only penetrated into the block-house type areas of the valleys of the Sopraceneri from the 17th century.
As a rule, farmsteads consisted of several buildings which served different functions. Grain storehouses (Nos. 322, 332, 512, 532, 622, 642) were found in the arable regions of the Central Midlands and cheese storage huts (Nos. 1012, 1022, 1362, 1363) in the semi-alpine and alpine regions, where pastures were used for extensive cattle rearing and dairy farming. Some barns which housed cattle were situated close to farmhouses while others were further away (Nos. 341, 1024). Loaves of bread were baked in oven-houses in many villages (Nos. 312, 333) and fruit was dried in drying kilns (Nos. 713, 1032). Some farms also had bee hives (Nos. 383, 614) or a separate wash-house (No. 612) which was also often used to distil spirits and process meat.