Peter Zumthor – The Legendary Swiss Architect

Peter Zumthor


Peter Zumthor turned into born on April 26, 1943, to their own circle of relatives of a woodworker in Basel. From humble beginnings, he has these days come to be one of the maximum influential architects of our time.

Peter Zumthor
Photo from Metropolis Mag

Apart from being an architect, Peter Zumthor is likewise a professor of the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. He has additionally taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, Tulane University, the Technical University of Munich, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Zumthor turned into born to a Swiss own circle of relatives in Basel, Switzerland. His father turned into a cupboard maker known as Oscar Zumthor. He educated Peter to be a cupboard maker between 1958-1962 earlier than he despatched him to school. Zumthor credit his father for instilling the ardour for layout into him from an early age.


After his apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker, Zumthor studied design at Schule für Gestaltung in Basel before he joined the Pratt Institute of New York. His experience in carpentry is an important part of Zumthor`s life and education. He specialized in cabinet making and also offered consultation services to preserve historic or old buildings in Grisons Canton, 1968-1979.

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In 1966, Zumthor studied industrial design and architecture as an exchange student at the Pratt Institute in New York. In 1968 he became the architect and restorer of the Graubunden State Monuments Department. This work on a historic restoration project gave him a deeper insight into the composition and quality of various rustic building materials. As his practice advanced, Zumthor could incorporate his knowledge of materials into modernist architecture and detailing. His buildings explore the tactile and sensory properties of spaces and materials while maintaining a minimalist appearance.


Peter Zumthor has a colorful and illustrious career. He is not only an architect but also a professor of architecture. He has been a professor at the Academy of Architecture at Universitá Della Svizzera Italiana in Mendrisio since 1996. Since 1988, he has also attended and lectured at SCIARC, the University of Southern California Architecture in Los Angeles, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, around 1999.

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Throughout his career, he has designed many stunning buildings. Zumthor has taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles (1988), the Technical University of Munich (1989), the University of Tulane (1992), and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1999). Since 1996, he has been a professor at the Academy of Architecture di Mendrisio.


Peter Zumthor is a firm believer in the philosophy that architecture must be experienced first-hand. For this reason, most of his work remains unpublished. The only literature available by Peter Zumthor is published narrative and phenomenological work.

Peter Zumthor has maintained a single clear style throughout his career. His work is characterized by strong ties with a particular place, a clear understanding of the philosophy of genius loci, and a focus on historicizing forms and/or types. This is all clear in buildings such as the Rath Twin House which was built in Haldenstein, and a school in Churwalden which was built between 1982 and 1983. In his architectural career, Zumthor has also developed a style of “great executive and conceptual rigor”. This was a direct effect of his critical and theoretical reflection. Above all else, I always paid attention to detail and material selection.

Photo from Rethinking The Future

Zumthor created his own personal style of “great conceptual and executive rigor”, as a direct consequence of his theoretical and critical reflections, paying meticulous attention to detail and choice of materials. His personal style references archetypal forms and innovative inspiration which create an original synthesis without ever resorting to gratuitous emphasis. His projects in the canton of Grigioni, completed in the eighties and nineties, include the chapel of San Benedetto, Sumvitg, in collaboration with his wife, Annalisa Cuorad), a retirement home in ChurMasans, and restoration of the Gugalum House, Safiental.


The Steilneset Memorial

Steileset memorial
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The Steilneset Memorial (2011), comprising unbiased structures, changed into created via way of means of Zumthor at Vardø (Norway), in collaboration with the artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010). The monument commemorates ninety-one human beings attempted and burned on the stake for witchcraft in 1621. The biggest of the 2 homes is a 125-meter fiberglass shape withinside the form of a hall, suspended via way of means of metal cables. Along the slender hall are ninety-one small, randomly located windows. The 2d building, product of Corten metal and glass, comprises a setup via way of means of Bourgeois: a steel chair with a perpetual flame, which recollects the torture of these condemned.

Zinc Mine Museum

More recently, Zumthor designed the Zinc Mine Museum in Sauda, southern Norway (2016) internal 19th-century mine. This visitor and exhibition path connect a sequence of small wood homes on stilt help with zinc doorways and roofs, which live an everlasting exhibition of mining artifacts and relics collectively with refreshment areas. Ideally in a panorama of steep granite cliffs, the paintings reference the harshness and drudgery of labor withinside the mine.

zinc doorways
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The chapel of Saint Nicholas of Flue

The chapel of Saint Nicholas of Flue, Hof Scheidtweiler, Mechernich (2007) is a small construction created freed from charge, in view of his mother`s devotion to the consumer saint of Switzerland. An apparently quite simple architectural example built in collaboration with farmers and buddies of the client, the chapel become constructed with simply over a hundred tree trunks from the close-by forest. Layers of concrete and gravel had been solid round those over a duration of some weeks. Subsequently, they had been set alight and left to burn slowly for greater than twenty days, developing a cloth just like charcoal.

handblown glass
Photo from Nomadbiba

Once the residual wooden become removed, the result becomes unique indentations at the indoors of the constructing a series of 350 holes created withinside the concrete-full of hand-blown glass. The indoor layout becomes finished through a small starting on the pinnacle to make certain mild from above, at the same time as outdoor is a small pass close to the triangular-formed door.


Thinking Architecture (1998)

Architecture, which should have a sensual connection to life, requires thinking far beyond shape and structure. In his text, Peter Zumthor articulates the motivation for designing buildings with an interesting and unmistakable presence and charisma that appeals to visitors in a variety of ways. increase. In the third edition, the book was extended with two new essays. “Architecture and Landscape” deals with the relationship between architecture and the environment and shows the secret to the success of architectural placement and topographical integration. In “The Leis Houses,” Peter Zumthor explains the history of the origins of two wooden houses in the city of Leis in Grisons, Switzerland, identifying contemporary architecture in traditional architecture. We are working on the challenges.

thinking architecture
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Atmospheres: Architectural Environments (2006)

What “really makes up the architectural atmosphere”? In the words of Peter Zumthor, “This extraordinary density and atmosphere, presence, well-being, harmony, beauty … experience something you would never have experienced this way under its spell.” Zumthor’s passion is to create buildings that work like this, but how can you really achieve that? In nine short illustrated chapters designed as a process of his self-observation, Peter Zumthor describes what comes to mind as he tries to create an atmosphere in his home.

The images of the spaces and buildings that influence him are just as important as the individual music or books that inspire him. From the composition and “presence” of materials to the treatment of proportions and the effects of light, this architectural poetic allows the reader to summarize what really matters in the design of a home.

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A Feeling of History (2018)

While finishing the Almannajuvet Zinc Mine Museum in southern Norway in 2016, celebrated Swiss architect Peter Zumthor requested Norwegian student Mari Lending to interact in a talk approximately the project. Departing from the methods wherein Zumthor`s pavilions body the slightly seen lines of the commercial exploitation of zinc withinside the 1890s, the communication took surprising turns. In meandering, impressionistic fashion and drawing on Zumthor’s preferred writers, which include Johann Peter Hebel, Stendhal, Vladimir Nabokov, and T.S. Eliot, their exchanges discover how records, time, and temporalities reverberate throughout the well-known architect’s oeuvre.

a feeling of history
Photo from Do You Read Me

Looking back, Zumthor ponders on how a sense of records has knowledgeable his non-stop tries of emotional reconstruction through building, from architectural interventions in dramatic landscapes to his layout for the redevelopment of Los Angeles’ LACMA on a grand city scale. This small, fantastically designed book describes the communication among Zumthor and Lending, illustrated with snap shots by the famed Swiss architectural photographer Helene Binet.

Peter Zumthor – Therme Vals (2007)

Therme Vals, the spa complex built in the Swiss Alps by celebrated architect Peter Zumthor, became an icon of contemporary architecture soon after its opening in 1996. Inspired by the spa`s majestic surroundings, Zumthor built the structure on the sharp grade of an Alpine Mountain slope with grass topped roofs to mimic Swiss meadows captured here in a series of sumptuous images.

Peter Zumthor Therme Vals, the only book length study of this singular building, features the architect’s own original sketches and plans for its design, and Hélène Binet’s striking photographs of the structure. Architectural scholar Sigrid Hauser contributes an essay on such topics as “Artemis/Diana,” “Baptism,” “Mikvah,” and “Spring”—drawing out the connections between the elemental nature of the spa and mythology, bathing, and purity.

Vals and the History of the Bath
Photo from A Daily Dose of Architecture Books

Annotations by Peter Zumthor on his design concept and the building process explain the structure’s symbiotic relationship to its natural surroundings, revealing, for example, why he insisted on using locally quarried stone. Therme Vals’ pictorial design elements and Zumthor’s contribution to the book reflect the architect’s devotion to the essentials and his disdain for unnecessary architectural excesses. This richly illustrated book about the resort that turned a remote Swiss village into an international architectural scene will appeal to all lovers of contemporary design.

Swiss Sound Box (2000)

Peter Zumthor was chosen to build the Swiss pavilion at the EXPO2000 in Hanover, and for this purpose, he created an unusual wooden structure, the Swiss “Soundbody”. Looking at this work of art, this text notes that the structure is actually an exhibition. As a pavilion for an exhibition, all the projects seek to represent different aspects of Swiss culture. For visitors who want to know more about the flag, they can browse the SoundBox Book, a pocket-sized illustrated dictionary containing over 900 keywords, everything you need to know about the SoundBox, and how it is presented inside. in: name, biography, documents, construction, products, place of origin, ideas, concepts, literary sources and more.

swiss sound box
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Peter Zumthor – Three Concepts (1997)

This publication features three ongoing projects by Peter Zumthor. Zumthor’s conceptual and structural sketches and texts tell of the origins of the hot tub in the mountain village of Vals/Bunden (opened in 1996), Bregenz Art Museum (opened in 1997) and the memorial and museum building “Topography of Terror” in Berlin (tentative). A variety of plans and photographs of models or buildings are made into complete documentation.

Three concepts
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  • 1993: He won an award at the competition for a documentation center and a museum on the horrors of Nazism which was to be constructed on the Gestapo headquarters, Berlin.
  • 1998: Carlsberg Architecture Prize in Denmark.
  • 1999: Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture.
  • 2006: Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture from the University of Virginia.
  • 2008: Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association.
  • 2009: Pritzker Laureate prize in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • 2013: RIBA Royal Gold Medal

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