Peter Zumthor (born 26 April 1943) is a Swiss architect whose work is frequently described as uncompromising and minimalist. He founded his own firm Peter Zumthor & Partner in 1979. Though managing a relatively small firm, he is the winner of the 2009 Pritzker Prize and 2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. His practice grew quickly and he accepted more international projects. Zumthor has taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles (1988), the Technical University of Munich (1989), Tulane University (1992), and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1999). Since 1996, he is professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio. Below we present you some of his best work.
HIGHLIGHT: PETER ZUMTHOR
Saint Benedict Chapel , 1988
The modest, human-scaled exterior of the chapel encapsulates the beauty and simplicity of Zumthor’s works, while the interior showcases his unparalleled craftsmanship. The chapel was constructed in the small village of Sumvitg, Switzerland following a 1984 avalanche that destroyed the baroque-style chapel of the village. The hillside site for the new chapel, which provides breathtaking mountainous views, is protected from future avalanches by a surrounding forest.
Therme Vals, 1996
Peter Zumthor was selected as the architect for the spa, despite his limited track record at the time. The facility was built between 1993-1996. The baths were designed to look as if they pre-dated the hotel complex, as if they were a form of cave or quarry-like structure. This is particularly evident from observing the grass roof structure of the baths, which resemble the foundations of an archaeological site, and reveal the form of the various bath rooms which lie below, half buried into the hill-side.
Kolumba Museum, 2007
Zumthor, consistently mindful of the use of the materials, and specifically their construction details, has used grey brick to unite the destroyed fragments of the site. These fragments include the remaining pieces of the Gothic church, stone ruins from the Roman and medieval periods, and German architect Gottfried Böhm’s 1950 chapel for the “Madonna of the Ruins.” The facade of grey brick integrates the remnants of the church’s facade into a new face for the contemporary museum. Articulated with perforations, the brick work allows diffused light to fill specific spaces of the museum. As the seasons change, the”mottled light shifts and plays across the ruins,” creating a peaceful ever-changing environment.
Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, 2007
In order to design buildings with a sensuous connection to life , one must think in a way that goes far beyond form and construction. This concept rings true in the design of Peter Zumthor to the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, where a mystical and intimate interior that invites reflection, is masked by a very rigid rectangular outer . Very somber and reflective feelings that become inevitable in one’s encounter with the chapel make it one of the most remarkable pieces of religious architecture to date.
The Leis Houses (Zumthor Vacation Homes), 2009
Peter Zumthor has built three timber houses, the Oberhus, the Unterhus and the Türmlihus, for himself and his wife Annalisa in the hamlet of Leis. He has extended the traditional Strickbau (literally “knitted construction”) building technique to include new design principles that allowed the installation of large picture windows. Stretching from floor to ceiling, they frame the landscape that resembles wall paintings inside the houses.
Steilneset Memorial, 2011
In collaboration with Louise Bourgeois
Zumthor simply describes his collaboration with Bourgeois in an interview with ArtInfo as the following, “I had my idea, I sent it to her, she liked it, and she came up with her idea, reacted to my idea, then I offered to abandon my idea and to do only hers, and she said, ‘No, please stay.’ So, the result is really about two things — there is a line, which is mine, and a dot, which is hers… Louise’s installation is more about the burning and the aggression, and my installation is more about the life and the emotions .”
Secular Retreat, 2018
The house is situated on a South Devon hilltop, England, one mile from the coast above the small Hamlet of Chivelstone. The dramatic layered-concrete and glass design sits horizontally on the site, framing stunning views across the landscape in all directions, where no trace of another building interrupts the lines of the rolling hills. Hand-rammed concrete forms both the interior and exterior spaces, to give the building a mass and scale characteristic of Zumthor’s work.