Special engraving technique known as "sgraffito"Special engraving technique known as "sgraffito"


The Engadin and its beautiful architecture

Typical features of Engadine architecture include thick walls, which have small windows recessed deeply into them. Despite the windows’ narrow appearance, they funnel plenty of light into the home within. This form of construction ensures that little heat can escape the houses in winter. Small bay windows often project from the exterior, to provide a broader view into the lanes. On the upper stories, the walls project outwards.

A traditional Engadin house – Chesa Dr. Campell, 1740
A traditional Engadin house – Chesa Dr. Campell, 1740

The facades are decorated using a special engraving technique known as ‘sgraffito’. Two or three coats of whitewash are overlaid onto grey plaster. Then, while this white layer is still moist, the engraver cuts motifs into it using a wooden stylus. Door archways, window recesses, gables and corners are the main areas decorated in this way, although whole areas of a building’s facade are also sometimes covered in sgraffiti. The patterns are mostly abstract, for example bands of triangles or circular decorations. This is a result of the later cladding of poorer wooden houses with stone as their inhabitants’ social status improved.

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