Architecture’s Quiet Hero

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Saint Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, Switzerland

 

“In order to design buildings
with a sensuous connection to life,
one must think in a way
that goes far beyond form and construction.”

The Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is the recipient of the 2009 Pritzker Prize, the highest recognition in architecture.

 

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Robin Pogrebin writes: “He is not a celebrity architect — not one of the names that show up on short lists for museums and concert hall projects or known outside of architecture circles. He hasn’t designed many buildings; the one he’s 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, out of the limelight and away from the crowd.”

 

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Saint Benedicts Chapel, 2005.

 

To me, buildings can have a beautiful silence
that I associate with attributes such as composure, self-evidence,
durability, presence, and integrity,
and with warmth and sensuousness as well;
a building that is being itself,
being a building, not representing anything,
just being.

 

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Interior Therme Vals, Vals, Switzerland

 

When I concentrate on a specific site or place
for which I am going to design a building,
when I try to plumb its depths, its form, its history,
and its sensuous qualities,
images of other places start to invade
this process of precise observation:
images of places I know
and that once impressed me.

 

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Diözesanmuseum, Cologne

 

The sense that I try to instill into materials
is beyond all rules of composition,
and their tangibility, smell, and acoustic qualities
are merely elements of the language we are obliged to use.

 

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Photo: Laura Padgett

 

Sense emerges when I succeed
in bringing out the specific meanings
of certain materials in my buildings,
meanings that can only be perceived
in just this way in this one building.

 

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Swiss Sound Box, Expo 2000, Hanover

 

The idea of things
that have nothing to do with me as an architect
taking their place in a building, their rightful place -
it’s a thought that gives me an insight into the future
of my buildings:
a future that happens without me.

 

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~ by eaesthete on 04/15/09.

One Response to “Architecture’s Quiet Hero”

  1. His work is truly awe inspiring… one of the most deserving of the Pritzker.

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