Peter Zumthor reveals the secrets of Therme Vals

New video sees him discussing his philosophy, why his most celebrated structure was originally destined to be 'hollowed out' and why he 'drops his pencil' if he thinks a client simply wants to order a Peter Zumthor building
Peter Zumthor - Photo courtesy Atelier Zumthor
Peter Zumthor - Photo courtesy Atelier Zumthor


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It may sound to some people a little breathless - perhaps even pretentious - to describe architecture as life-changing. If you could somehow transport those people to Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals however, we're confident they might just change their opinion. Our incredible book Composing Space by photographer Hélène Binet gives an idea of the visual power of the Swiss architect's work, but the personal interaction engendered by a visit leaves a very, very different feeling.

It's fair to say Zumthor is one of phaidon.com's most admired architects so we leapt on the chance to bring you this excellent and illuminating interview he did a couple of weeks ago with RIBA's Tony Chapman. We think it offers a great insight into the working practices of a cerebral yet sensitive artist. 

 

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

The interview took place in his home and studio in Haldenstein, in the Swiss Graubunden. In it Zumthor reveals that the original idea for Therme Vals was to hollow out the space upon which it stands.  "It was a quarry and then it became more of a construction site. The process was not deciding shadow but letting the light in and letting the view come in," he says at one point. 

 

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

(Along the way) "there were many moments of truth. At the end though, I judged with my heart. If I don't like it who gives a hell about the rules? We start again. It takes time. Sometimes it's not easy to explain that to clients.  Sometimes people think they can order a Zumthor! If I have the feeling it's about ordering a Zumthor building my pencil drops!"

 

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals, Switzerland (1996) - Hélène Binet

Watch the video below, check out our beautifully packaged and printed Hélène Binet book Composing Space and browse our extensive Zumthor online content. If you enjoyed the video let us know by pressing the like button, and if you'd like to comment, please use the box below. 

 


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