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Monday, April 13, 2009

Zumthor wins Pritzker - citing Kolomba, Spittelhof, Kunsthaus Bregenz and Vals.

2007: Kolumba Art Museum of the Cologne Archdiocese
Cologne, Germany

1988: Saint Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, Graubünden, Switzerland.

2000: Swiss Sound Box, Swiss Pavilion, Expo 2000 Hanover, Germany.

ABC: Switzerland's Peter Zumthor has been named the winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the industry's most prestigious annual award.
Peter Zumthor:

“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. The sense that I try to instil 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. 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. 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, images of ordinary or special places places that I carry with me as inner visions of specific moods and qualities; images of architectural situations, which emanate from the world of art, or films, theater or literature.”

You know he's an architect because he's wearing his guru outfit. Look out for the tell-tale Nehru/"Manadarin" collar (that I've always known as the "guru collar") and/or robe-like shirts and jackets - sure give-aways of guruness and general guruosity.

1996: Thermal Bath Vals, Graubünden, Switzerland. One of his best known achievements.
I guess the lawn on the roof helps keep the heat in as well as reducing the visual impact, so it's a pity the buildings from the previous development that surround his magnificent spa are so thoughtlessly ugly.

The clean, linear, 90 degree angles and stark designs can be found in most modern architecture today. Looking through his portfolio the first impression I get is that he is very much in that minimalist mould. I think ice block sticks when I see the Swiss pavilion, and I note the horizontal layers theme continues in his work for domestic residences, galleries and recreational facilities. I find it all too anti-septic and cold to be any good for intimate environments; but the texture and features Zumthor adds dials back the alienation factor in his bigger projects.

In awarding the prize to Zumthor they must be honouring that whole school - the prevailing type/school of internationalist architecture. I associate the basic geometric tenets with traditional Japan and it's modern application (especially with regard to multiple regular horizontal lines) as being contemporary European. But that's my impression and does not speak to all of his work.


At 13/4/09 10:34 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Christchurch a real work of Archi-Art , a house has been built at 1 The Rocks, Sumner.

The site is on the cnr of White Wash Heads at the start of Scarborough Hill, just above the Sumner Life Boat/Boat ramp.

It had an old cobbled stone two storey house on it, which was quaint but no real loss to the historic landscape of Christchurch.

What has been put on this triangular site is nothing short of amazing. Construnction in Concrete, stone & steel on two sides & the tird side is all glass on all three levels. The garage is on the top right hand cnr and has amazing views, but nothing is lost by that position as every other room has equal views.

Then you can look down and see what I think must have been the insparation for this brutal exterior of stone steel and concrete, the coastal defenses of Christchurch from WWII, metre square blocks of concrete with iron rail lines linking them.

This is a forgotten and hidden history of Christchurch which, to me show the hidden depths of the Architect, whoever that person was who created such a building.


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