The Vals stable and hayloft originally stood at the Weiler Camp near the Santa Maria pilgrimage chapel of 1692, at the bottom of the Vals valley. When it had to make way for a new road, we were fortunate to be able to relocate it to Ballenberg. According to the Illiens – the owner family since time immemorial – the farmhouse itself was located on the other side of the stream traversing the site. Together they formed a building group typical of Vals farms up to around 1950, when the farmhouse was virtually destroyed, most likely by an avalanche, with only parts of the foundation remaining.
We don’t know who originally built the stable and hayloft, but it was some time in the first half of the 19th century or earlier. According to dendrochronology, the building’s wood dates from the 1780s. In those days stables were community projects built according to the then current fashion and often taking the place of an older building. The stone corners are considerably more solid than their traditional counterparts built on Vals hillsides from around 1860 to 1930 with upright boards between the slim cornerposts.
The ground, or stable, floor is typical for a farm raising cattle. It is made of rendered (stuccoed) stonework that rises to form the corners of the hayloft. The joists for the hayloft were hewn with an axe on both sides and dowelled into timbers along the sides. The two-winged stable door has a small ventilation window on the right-hand wing and a third, top-hinged wing. The hayloft door is made of two vertical wings.
The irregular roof stones – made of different rock, probably from local quarries – rest on split laths on rafters dowelled and nailed to the ridge beam and on roof beams cut to length from trees of the thickness.
The building is quite representative of a limited time period in the Vals valley. Similar stone-corner stables exist in Rheinwals and Avers, and in a slightly different form in the southern part of Grisons, where they originated. Building materials are original to the extent possible.
The Vals stable and hayloft is our first example of agricultural architecture for our Grisons group of buildings. The Champatsch Alp buildings from Valchava, on the other hand, are located in our Alpine and Temporary Dwellings section. A separate hay shed will soon be erected next to the stable-and-loft building in the Grisons section and later on a traditional, timber farmhouse.