This Looks Like A Quaint Little Swiss Chalet, But Wait Till You See What It Really Is...
Until 2004, camouflaged military bunkers were a well-kept military secret in Switzerland. Many residents had no idea that the village where they grew up had been storing military weapons all along until Christian Schwager’s “Fake Chalets” photography project went public.
From fake chalets to bat caves, to camouflaged bunkers and some other more bizarre fakeries, here’s a few architecture fakery to round up our look at the Swiss’ mastery of disguise.
They really look like quaint little villas complete with traditional wood green shutters and lace curtains. But strangely, the houses look a little narrow... that’s because they’re no quaint Swiss chalets but rather military bunkers in disguise.
Schwager estimates there are at least 250 military weapons compounds hiding behind well-disguised facades that have gone unnoticed for years. He has photographed a little more than a hundred of them. Most of the camouflaged bunkers were from WWII when aerial reconnaissance and military espionage were rife.
It was important that the bunkers blend in the picture-perfect image of Swiss villages, so theater designers and artists were especially hired to give the bunkers a realistic touch. The “chalets” should be able to deceive a casual observer at a minimum distance of 20 meters.
These pretty pastel chalets, Villa Rose and Villa Verte, were part of Switzerland’s WWII line of defense called the “Promenthouse Line,” also called the “Toblerone Line” because of the shape of the concrete blocks used that resembled the famous chocolate brand.
The two villas are masterfully disguised as perfectly manicured chalets that characterise the picturesque Swiss countryside. Fully fortified and militarised, with 7-foot thick walls, the villas are even said to have been built with toilets that had holes in the walls for grenade-throwing.
Following the publishing of Schwager’s book, Switzerland’s fake chalets became an open secret. In 2006, Villa Rose was restored and opened to the public as part of the European Heritage Days celebration.
Many of the publicly-known bunkers are no longer in use and are left to decay or be demolished. However, Schwager sees the fake villas as works of art and hopes more can be saved and preserved.
Photo: Leo Fabrizio
Photo: Leo Fabrizio