On the first day of classes in graduate school, I was at the door of the architectural library when it opened. Not to pick up the books a professor would have on reserve. Not to make a copy of a syllabus and class schedule. I was there to check out the only copy of Peter Zumthor Works: Buildings and Projects 1979-1997. Currently on Amazon this book (new and used) is priced from $1035.41 – $1804.00. No joke.
I am ashamed to now admit that I never let anyone know I had this book. I could not risk a professor asking me to return it to put on reserve (bad, I know).
When I got home, before I went to sleep, I would take the book out of my booksack, sit in my bed and hum to myself as I studied the content on the pages. There was a sensual, tactile way he expressed his design intent with material, space and light. The elements and details that would eventually make up a wall, or an opening or a facade came together in a holistic and poetic manner. This is one of my favorite architects.
Peter Zumthor was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1943. He was first trained as a cabinetmaker, then as a designer and architect at the Kunstgewerbeschule Basel and Pratt Institute, New York. He began his design practice in 1979 and won the Pritzker Prize in 2009.
I have selected a few of his works – not to showcase the works as a completed projects per se, but rather to highlight his expertise in space, material and light.
“We all experience architecture before we have even heard the word. The roots of architectural understanding lie in our architectural experience: our room, our house, our street, our village, our town our landscape – we experience them all early on, unconsciously, and we subsequently compare them with the countryside, towns, and houses that we experience later on. The roots of our understanding of architecture lie in our childhood…”
Peter Zumthor from his book Thinking Architecture (NOT priced at $1035.41 – $1804.00)