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Peter Zumthor, Swiss Architect

Posted by archigraphy on September 20, 2009

Born:

April 26, 1943 in Basel, Switzerland

Education:

  • 1958-1962: Trained as a cabinet maker
  • 1963-1967: Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland and the Pratt Institute in New York City, USA.

Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor, winner of the 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize Photo © Gary Ebner courtesy of Peter Zumthor

Swiss Architect Peter Zumthor, winner of the 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize Photo © Gary Ebner courtesy of Peter Zumthor

Selected Buildings:

Selected Awards:

  • 1995: International Prize for Stone Architecture, Fiera di Verona, Italy
  • 1995: Internationaler Architekturpreis für Neues Bauen in den Alpen, Graubünden, Switzerland
  • 1996: Erich-Schelling-Preis für Architektur, Erich-Schelling-Stiftung, Germany
  • 1999: Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture, for the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Barcelona, Spain
  • 2006: Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award
  • 2008: Praemium Imperiale, Japan Arts Association
  • 2009: Pritzker Architecture Prize

Quotes:

  • “I believe that the language of architecture is not a question of a specific style. Every building is built for a specific use in a specific place and for a specific society.”
    Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor

About Peter Zumthor:

The son of a cabinet maker, Peter Zumthor is often praised for the detailed craftsmanship of his designs. Peter Zumthor works with a range of materials, from cedar shingles to sandblasted glass, to create inviting textures. “I work a little bit like a sculptor,” Zumthor told the New York Times. “When I start, my first idea for a building is with the material. I believe architecture is about that. It’s not about paper, it’s not about forms. It’s about space and material.”

Peter Zumthor lives quietly in the remote village of Haldenstein in the Swiss mountains. His buildings are found mainly in Europe.

Source: http://architecture.about.com/od/architectsaz/p/zumthor.htm

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Pritzker Prize Goes To Peter Zumthor

Posted by archigraphy on September 20, 2009

He is not a celebrity architect, not one of the names that show up on shortlists for museums and concert hall projects or known beyond architecture circles. He hasn’t designed many buildings; the one he is best known for is a thermal spa in an Alpine commune. And he has toiled in relative obscurity for the last 30 years in a remote village in the Swiss mountains.

Peter Zumthor’s art museum in Bregenz, Austria, has glass walls that can serve as billboards or video screens at night.

Peter Zumthor’s art museum in Bregenz, Austria, has glass walls that can serve as billboards or video screens at night.

But on Monday the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is to be named the winner of the 2009 Pritzker Prize, the highest recognition for architects.

“He has conceived his method of practice almost as carefully as each of his projects,” the citation from the nine-member Pritzker jury says. “He develops buildings of great integrity — untouched by fad or fashion. Declining a majority of the commissions that come his way, he only accepts a project if he feels a deep affinity for its program, and from the moment of commitment, his devotion is complete, overseeing the project’s realization to the very last detail.”

For Mr. Zumthor, 65, winning the Pritzker, which is awarded annually to a living architect and regarded as architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, is a kind of vindication. “You can do your work, you do your thing, and it gets recognized,” he said in a telephone interview from Haldenstein, the Swiss village where he lives and works.

Mr. Zumthor is the 33rd laureate to receive the prize, which consists of a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion and is awarded at a different architecturally significant location each year. This year’s ceremony is to be held on May 29 in Buenos Aires.

The project most closely associated with Mr. Zumthor is the spa he completed in 1996 for the Hotel Therme in Vals, an Alpine village in Switzerland. Using slabs of quartzite that evoke stacked Roman bricks, Mr. Zumthor created a contemporary take on the baths of antiquity.

He is also known for his use of wood, as in St. Benedict Chapel in Sumvitg, Switzerland, which evokes a giant hot tub.

The interior of the St. Benedict Chapel, designed by Peter Zumthor, in Sumvitg, Switzerland.

The interior of the St. Benedict Chapel, designed by Peter Zumthor, in Sumvitg, Switzerland.

The Pritzker jury praised Mr. Zumthor’s use of materials. “In Zumthor’s skillful hands, like those of the consummate craftsman, materials from cedar shingles to sandblasted glass are used in a way that celebrates their own unique qualities, all in the service of an architecture of permanence,” the citation said, adding, “In paring down architecture to its barest yet most sumptuous essentials, he has reaffirmed architecture’s indispensable place in a fragile world.”

Mr. Zumthor said that his projects generally originated with materials. “I work a little bit like a sculptor,” he said. “When I start, my first idea for a building is with the material. I believe architecture is about that. It’s not about paper, it’s not about forms. It’s about space and material.”

Mr. Zumthor’s buildings do not share a common vernacular. They range from tall and circular to low-slung and boxy. For his Field Chapel to St. Nikolaus von der Flüe, completed in 2007, in Mechernich, Germany, Mr. Zumthor formed the interior from 112 tree trunks configured like a tent. Over 24 days, layers of concrete were poured around the structure. Then for three weeks a fire was kept burning inside so that the dried tree trunks could be easily removed from the concrete shell. The chapel floor was covered with lead, which was melted on site and manually ladled onto the floor.

For an art museum in Bregenz, Austria — a four-story cube of concrete, steel and glass that opened in 1997 — Mr. Zumthor used glass walls that at night can become giant billboards or video screens.

His Kolumba Art Museum in Cologne, Germany, completed in 2007, rises out of the ruins of the Gothic St. Kolumba Church, destroyed in World War II. The Pritzker jury called the project “a startling contemporary work, but also one that is completely at ease with its many layers of history.”

Mr. Zumthor said that he deliberately kept his office small— no more than 20 people. “That’s the way it’s going to be so that I can be the author of everything,” he said.

“I’m not a producer of images,” he added. “I’m this guy who, when I take on a commission, I do it inside out, everything myself, with my team.”

One of Mr. Zumthor’s best-known designs never came to fruition. In 1993 he won the competition for a museum and documentation center on the horrors of Nazism to be built on the site of Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. Mr. Zumthor’s submission called for an extended three-story building with a framework consisting of concrete rods. The project, called the Topography of Terror, was partly built and then abandoned when the government decided not to go ahead for financial reasons. The unfinished building was demolished in 2004.

Born in Basel, Switzerland, Mr. Zumthor as a teenager served a four-year apprenticeship with a cabinetmaker. He studied at the Basel Arts and Crafts School and spent a year at Pratt Institute in New York. In the 1970s he moved to Graubünden, Switzerland, to work for the Department for the Preservation of Monuments. He established his own practice in 1979 in Haldenstein, where he and his wife, Annalisa Zumthor-Cuorad, brought up their three children.

Mr. Zumthor said that his village had been an inspiration and a refuge. “It helps you concentrate,” he said. “And also collaborators coming here are not distracted by all the things of the big city. To come up with me, you’re in the Alps. It’s sort of a commitment. It’s a beautiful feeling. Of course you have to like the mountains.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/arts/design/13pritzker.html

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Peter Zumthor Works

Posted by archigraphy on September 18, 2009

1986: Protective Housing for Roman Excavations, Chur, Graubünden, Switzerland

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor designed these structures to protect ancient Roman ruins excavated in Chur, Switzerland.

Protective Housing for Roman Excavations in Chur Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Protective Housing for Roman Excavations in Chur Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“In the 4th century AD, Chur was the Roman capital of the province of Curia – hence the name Chur. The Romans inhabited the area now called the Welschdörfli (French-speaking Swiss village), Chur’s small amusement strip just off the historic town centre, where, it is said, people still spoke Churerwelsch though the people in town were already speaking German.

“Archaeological excavations in this area have uncovered a complete Roman quarter. The protective structures – wind-permeable wooden enclosures – follow the outer walls of three adjacent Roman buildings (only a small part of one of these was excavated). The site’s display cases along the street skirt the protruding foundations of the former house entrances.

A wall painting was found lying on the floor of the larger building. Restored and returned to its original position, it gives an impression of the probable height of the single-storey houses.

“The charred remains of a wooden floor at the back of the larger building are from Roman times.”

1988: Saint Benedict Chapel in Sumvitg, Graubünden, Switzerland

Peter Zumthor designed the new wooden chapel for the village of Sogn Benedetg (St. Benedict) in Switzerland.

St. Benedict Chapel in Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

St. Benedict Chapel in Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“In 1984 an avalanche destroyed the baroque chapel in front of the village of Sogn Benedetg (St. Benedict). A recently built parking lot had acted like a ramp pushing the snow from the avalanche up against the chapel. The new site on the original path to the Alp above the small village is protected from avalanches by a forest. The new wooden chapel, faced with larch wood shingles, was inaugurated in 1988.

“The village authorities sent us the building permit with the comment senza perschuasiun (without conviction). Yet the abbot and monks of the Disentis Monastery and the then village priest Bearth wanted to build something new and contemporary for future generations.”

1993: Homes for Senior Citizens in Masans, Graubünden, Switzerland

Peter Zumthor designed this building for senior housing in Masans near Chur in Graubünden, Switzerland.

Senior housing in Masans, Graubünden, Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Senior housing in Masans, Graubünden, Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“The twenty-two flats of the residential development for the elderly in Masans near Chur are occupied by senior citizens still able to run their own households, but happy to use the services offered by the nursing home behind their own building.

“Many of the residents grew up in mountain villages around the area. They have always lived in the country and feel at home with the traditional building materials used here – tuff, larch, pine, maple, solid wood flooring and wooden panelling.

“The residents are welcome to furnish as they please their section of the large entrance porch to the east, which they overlook from their kitchen windows, and they make ample use of this opportunity. The sheltered balcony niches and the living room bow (bay) windows on the other side face west, up the valley, towards the setting sun.”

1996: Thermal Bath at Vals, Graubünden, Switzerland

Peter Zumthor designed and constructed his widely praised Thermal Bath at Vals in Graubünden, Switzerland.

Thermal Bath at Vals in Graubünden, Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Thermal Bath at Vals in Graubünden, Switzerland Photo © Helene Binet, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“In 1983 the commune of Vals acquired the bankrupt hotel complex, built in the 1960s, for very little money, but without much enthusiasm. But something had to be done in order to rescue existing jobs. When a larger new building with integrated thermal baths and new guest rooms proved too costly, the authorities opted for the thermal baths as a first step.

“We were told it should be something special, unique. It should fit in with Vals and attract new guests. In 1991 the project was presented at a village meeting with a water-filled stone model. Construction started in 1994, and the thermal baths were opened in 1996. Since then, over 40,000 people have visited them every year. Since completion, the overnight stays in the village and in the Hotel Therme have increased by about 45 per cent.

“The load-bearing composite structure of the baths consists of solid walls of concrete and thin slabs of Vals gneiss broken and cut to size in the quarry just behind the village. The thermal water which comes from the mountain just behind the baths has a temperature of 30°C.”

2000: Swiss Sound Box, Swiss Pavilion, Expo 2000

Peter Zumthor designed this building for a Swiss Pavilion called a Swiss Sound Box at the 2000 Expo in Hanover, Germany.

Swiss Sound Box at the 2000 Expo in Hanover, Germany Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Swiss Sound Box at the 2000 Expo in Hanover, Germany Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“We called the Swiss Pavilion for the 2000 Hanover Expo Klangkörper Schweiz. Instead of showing theoretical or virtual information to promote Switzerland, our basic idea was to offer something concrete to Expo visitors, who would be tired from studying all the messages in the other national pavilions: a welcoming place to rest, a place to just be, a place offering a tasty little something from Switzerland for thirsty or peckish visitors, and live music unplugged, moving and changing throughout the space, a relaxed atmosphere as well as beautifully dressed attendants.

“The idea of creating a Gesamtkunstwerk had fired our imagination. Dramatic music played by musicians moving around, culinary offers, fashion and key words about Switzerland written in light on the eams and with a light hand: all this was designed to merge with the architecture, a spatial structure of wooden beams.

“Taking the Expo theme of sustainability seriously, we constructed the pavilion out of 144 km of lumber with a cross-section of 20 x 10 cm, totalling 2,800 cubic metres of larch and Douglas pine from Swiss forests, assembled without glue, bolts or nails, only braced with steel cables, and with each beam being pressed down on the one below. After the closure of the Expo, the building was dismantled and the beams sold as seasoned timber.”

2002: Luzi House in Jenaz, Graubünden, Switzerland

Peter Zumthor designed the Luzi House in Jenaz, Switzerland for a family who sought sunlight and simplicity.

The Luzi House in Jenaz, Switzerland Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

The Luzi House in Jenaz, Switzerland Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Located in the center of Jenaz, the Luzi House is a private residence with a separate granny flat or a Stoeckli as it is called in Switzerland. Architect Peter Zumthor designed the home for a couple with six small children.

The clients requested that Peter Zumthor build for them a “spacious, expansive house with lightfilled rooms, everything constructed of solid wood; a further development of the blockhouses typical of this village, without any extra frills, with large windows and large balconies full of flowers.”

2007: Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany (Exterior)

Peter Zumthor designed this building for the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in in Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany.

Brother Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor. Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany. Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Brother Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor. Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany. Photo © Walter Mair, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“The field chapel dedicated to Swiss Saint Nicholas von der Flüe (1417–1487), known as Brother Klaus, was commissioned by farmer Hermann- Josef Scheidtweiler and his wife Trudel and largely constructed by them, with the help of friends, acquaintances and craftsmen on one of their fields above the village.

“The interior of the chapel room was formed out of 112 tree trunks…”

2007: Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany (Interior)

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor designed this unique interior space at the Brother Klaus Field Chapel in Germany.

Interior of the Brother Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor Photo © Pietro Savorelli, courtesy Peter Zumthor

Interior of the Brother Klaus Field Chapel by Peter Zumthor Photo © Pietro Savorelli, courtesy Peter Zumthor

“The interior of the chapel room was formed out of 112 tree trunks, which were configured like a tent. In twentyfour working days, layer after layer of concrete, each layer 50 cm thick, was poured and rammed around the tentlike structure.

“In the autumn of 2006, a special smouldering fire was kept burning for three weeks inside the log tent, after which time the tree trunks were dry and could easily be removed from the concrete shell.

“The chapel floor was covered with lead, which was melted on site in a crucible and manually ladled onto the floor. The bronze relief figure in the chapel is by sculptor Hans Josephsohn.”

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