Carlsberg Architectural Prize (1998)
Praemium Imperiale (2008)
Pritzker Prize (2009)
Royal Gold Medal
Royal Gold Medal (2013)
Peter Zumthor (born 26 April 1943) is a Swiss architect whose work is
frequently described as uncompromising and minimalist. Though
managing a relatively small firm, he is the winner of the 2009
Pritzker Prize and 2013
RIBA Royal Gold Medal.
1 Early life
4.1 Thinking Architecture
Peter Zumthor Therme Vals
4.4 Seeing Zumthor
6 Principal works
9 External links
Zumthor was born in Basel, Switzerland. His father was a
cabinet-maker, which exposed him to design from an early age and he
later became an apprentice for a carpenter in 1958. He studied at the
Kunstgewerbeschule (arts and crafts school) in his native city
starting in 1963.
In 1966, Zumthor studied industrial design and architecture as an
exchange student at
Pratt Institute in New York. In 1968, he became
conservationist architect for the Department for the Preservation of
Monuments of the canton of Graubünden. This work on historic
restoration projects gave him a further understanding of construction
and the qualities of different rustic building materials. As his
practice developed, Zumthor was able to incorporate his knowledge of
Modernist construction and detailing. His buildings
explore the tactile and sensory qualities of spaces and materials
while retaining a minimalist feel.
Kolumba Museum, Cologne
Zumthor founded his own firm in 1979. His practice grew quickly and he
accepted more international projects.
Zumthor has taught at
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Southern California Institute of Architecture in
Los Angeles (1988), the
Technical University of Munich
Technical University of Munich (1989), Tulane
University (1992), and the
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Harvard Graduate School of Design (1999).
Since 1996, he has been a professor at the Accademia di Architettura
di Mendrisio.
His best known projects are the
Kunsthaus Bregenz (1997), a shimmering
glass and concrete cube that overlooks Lake Constance (Bodensee) in
Austria; the cave-like thermal baths in Vals,
Switzerland (1999); the
Swiss Pavilion for
Expo 2000 in Hannover, an all-timber structure
intended to be recycled after the event; the
Kolumba Diocesan Museum
(2007), in Cologne; and the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, on a farm near
In 1993 Zumthor won the competition for a museum and documentation
center on the horrors of Nazism to be built on the site of Gestapo
headquarters in Berlin. Mr. Zumthor’s submission called for an
extended three-story building with a framework consisting of concrete
rods. The project, called the Topography of Terror, was partly built
and then abandoned when the government decided not to go ahead for
financial reasons. The unfinished building was demolished in 2004.
In 1999, Zumthor was selected as the only foreign architect to
participate in Norway’s National Tourist Routes Project, with two
projects, the Memorial in Memory of the Victims of the Witch Trials in
Varanger, a collaboration with
Louise Bourgeois (completed in 2010),
and a rest area/museum on the site of an abandoned zinc mine.
Dia Art Foundation
Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, New York, Zumthor designed a
gallery that was to house the “360° I Ching” sculpture by Walter
de Maria; though the project was never completed. Zumthor is the only
foreign architect to participate, with two projects,
the Memorial in Memory of the Victims of the Witch Trials in Varanger,
a collaboration with
Louise Bourgeois (2011), and a rest
area/museum on the site of the abandoned
Allmannajuvet zinc mines, in
operation from 1882 to 1898, in Norway (2016). In November 2009, it
was revealed that Zumthor is working on a major redesign for the
campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Recently, he turned
down an opportunity to consider a new library for Magdalen College,
Oxford. He was selected to design the Serpentine Gallery's annual
summer pavilion with designer Piet Oudolf in 2011.
Currently, Zumthor works out of his small studio with around 30
employees, in Haldenstein, near the city of Chur, in Switzerland.
In 1994, he was elected to the Academy of Arts, Berlin. In 1996, he
was made an honorary member of the
Bund Deutscher Architekten
Bund Deutscher Architekten (BDA).
In 1998, Zumthor received the
Carlsberg Architectural Prize for his
designs of the
Kunsthaus Bregenz in Bregenz, Austria and the Thermal
Baths at Vals,
Switzerland (see below). He won the Mies van der Rohe
Award for European Architecture in 1999. Recently, he was awarded
Praemium Imperiale in (2008) and the Pritzker Architecture Prize
(2009). In 2012, he was awarded the
RIBA Royal Gold Medal.
Zumthor's work is largely unpublished in part because of his
philosophical belief that architecture must be experienced first
hand. His published written work is mostly narrative and
In Thinking Architecture
Peter Zumthor expresses his motivation in
designing buildings that have an emotional connection and possess a
powerful and unmistakable presence and personality. It is illustrated
throughout with color photographs by Laura Padgett of Zumthor's new
home and studio in Haldenstein.
“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.”
Atmospheres is a poetics of architecture and a window into Zumthor's
personal sources of inspiration. In nine short, illustrated chapters
framed as a process of self-observation, Zumthor describes what he has
on his mind as he sets about creating the atmosphere of his houses:
Images of spaces and buildings that affect him are every bit as
important as particular pieces of music or books that inspire him.
From the composition and “presence” of the materials to the
handling of proportions and the effect of light, this poetics of
architecture enables the reader to recapitulate what really matters in
the process of house design. In conclusion,
Peter Zumthor has
described what really constitutes an architectural atmosphere as "this
singular density and mood, this feeling of presence, well-being,
harmony, beauty...under whose spell I experience what I otherwise
would not experience in precisely this way."
Peter Zumthor Therme Vals
Therme Vals, Switzerland
Therme Vals (Peter Zumthor)
Therme Vals is the only book-length study of this singular building.
It features the architect’s original sketches and plans for its
design as well as Hélène Binet’s striking photographs of the
structure. Architectural scholar Sigrid Hauser contributes essays on
such topics as “Artemis/Diana,” “Baptism,” “Mikvah,” and
“Spring”—drawing out the connections between the elemental
nature of the spa and mythology, bathing, and purity.
Peter Zumthor on his design concept and the building
process elucidate the structure’s symbiotic relationship to its
natural surroundings, revealing, for example, why he insisted on using
locally quarried stone. Therme Vals’s scenic design elements, and
Zumthor’s contributions to this book, reflect the architect’s
commitment to the essential and his disdain for needless architectural
Seeing Zumthor represents a unique collaboration between Zumthor and
Swiss photographer Hans Danuser, containing Danuser’s images of
buildings created by Zumthor. More than twenty years ago, in a
milestone event of twentieth-century architectural photography,
Danuser photographed, at Zumthor’s invitation, two buildings: the
protective structure built for archaeological excavations in
St. Benedict’s Chapel in Sumvitg. When first shown in exhibition,
those photos ignited a lively debate that has been revived with a
recent exhibition of Danuser’s photographs of Zumthor’s most
famous work, the spa at Therme Vals. Seeing Zumthor collects these
three important series of Danuser’s pictures and includes essays by
leading art historians exploring the relationship between the two
seemingly different disciplines or architecture and photography.
Zumthor and his wife, Annalisa Zumthor-Cuorad, have three children.
1983 Elementary school Churwalden, Churwalden, Graubünden,
1983 House Räth, Haldenstein, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1986 Shelters for Roman archaeological site, Chur, Graubünden,
1986 Atelier Zumthor, Haldenstein, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1989 Saint Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1990 Art Museum Chur, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1993 Residential home for the elderly, Masans, Chur, Graubünden,
1994 Gugalun House, Versam, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1996 Spittelhof housing, Biel-Benken, Basel, Switzerland.
1996 Therme Vals, Vals, Graubünden, Switzerland.
1997 Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Austria.
1997 Topography of Terror, International Exhibition and Documentation
Centre, Berlin, Germany, partly built, abandoned, demolished in 2004.
1997-2000 Swiss Pavilion EXPO 2000, Hannover, Germany.
1997 Villa in
Küsnacht am Zürichsee Küsnacht, Switzerland.
1997 Lichtforum Zumtobel Staff, Zürich, Switzerland.
1999 Cloud Rock Wilderness Lodge, Moab, Utah, United States.
2007 Bruder Klaus Kapelle, Mechernich-Wachendorf, Germany.
Kolumba - Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum, Cologne, Germany.
Steilneset Memorial for the Victims of the Witch Trials, Vardø,
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London, England
2012 Werkraum Bregenzerwald Hof 800, 6866 Andelsbuch, Austria
2016 Rest area/museum,
Allmannajuvet zinc mines
2018-23 (proposed) LACMA, Los Angeles, CA.
St. Benedict Chapel
Bruder Klaus Chapel
Kolumba - Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum
1987 Auszeichnung guter Bauten im Kanton Graubünden, Switzerland.
1989 Heinrich Tessenow medal, Technische Universität Hannover,
1991 Gulam, European wiid-glue prize.
1992 Internationaler Architekturpreis für Neues Bauen in den Alpen,
1993 Best Building 1993 award from Swiss tc's 10vor10, Graubünden,
1994 Auszeichnung guter Bauten im Kanton Graubünden, Switzerland.
1995 International Prize for Stone Architecture, Fiera di Verona,
1995 Internationaler Architekturpreis für Neues Bauen in den Alpen,
Erich-Schelling-Preis für Architektur, Erich-Schelling-Stiftung,
European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture
European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture (aka Mies van
der Rohe Award) for Bregenz Art Museum.
1998 Carlsberg Architectural Prize.
2006 Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award.
2006 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, University of
2008 Praemium Imperiale, Japan Arts Association
2009 Pritzker Prize
Royal Gold Medal
Royal Gold Medal for 2013, announced September 2012, award
ceremony February 2013
^ Newel, Conrad (13 September 2013). "Dear Architecture Journalists:
Stop Worshipping Peter Zumthor!". Architizer.com. Retrieved 27 April
^ a b c Pogrebin, Robin, (April 12, 2009), "
Pritzker Prize Goes to
Peter Zumthor", New York Times.
^ Cathy Lang Ho (February 5, 2010),
Peter Zumthor Speaks ARTINFO.
^ a b Bell, Jonathan, "Dark arts:
Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois'
brooding Steilneset memorial", 4 July 2011. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
^ a b Frearson, Amy, "
Peter Zumthor creates buildings on stilts for
tourist trail at a Norwegian mine", dezeen.com, 10 June 2016.
^ a b Lifson, Edward (November 24, 2009), "A Bolt of Zumthor", The
^ Jonathan Glancey (4 April 2011),
Peter Zumthor unveils secret garden
for Serpentine pavilion The Guardian.
^ Michael Kimmelman (March 11, 2011), The Ascension of Peter Zumthor
New York Times.
^ Press Release (September 27, 2012),
Peter Zumthor awarded 2013 Royal
Gold Medal for architecture Archived 2013-04-06 at the Wayback
Machine. The Royal Institute of British Architects.
^ Nico Saieh (November 2, 2010), Multiplicity and Memory: Talking
About Architecture with
Peter Zumthor ArchDaily.com.
^ Zumthor, Peter (ed.) (March 2007). "
Peter Zumthor Therme Vals".
press.uchicago.edu. ISBN 9783858817044. Archived from the
original on June 19, 2010. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-16. Retrieved
^ ArcDog. Shelter for Roman Ruins Peter Zumthor. ArcDog Film,
Published on Oct 21, 2017
^ "The Gugalun House, by Peter Zumthor" Stories of Houses blog.
^ Steilneset minnested (engl.: Steilneset Memorial) Archived
Archive.is – Information about the memorial from the
commune of Vardø. (Norwegian, English)
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 – Information about the 2011
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
^ Nagourney, Adam, "Is This Los Angeles’s $600 Million Man?", New
York Times, January 18, 2017. The headline refers to museum director
Michael Govan and the museum's need to raise the balance of the
rebuilding price tag in 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-19.
^ Waite, Richard. "Breaking news: Zumthor wins Royal Gold Medal".
RIBA, Architects Journal. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Peter Zumthor.
Peter Zumthor collected news and commentary". The New York
Peter Zumthor photogallery at Time, 2009
Pritzker Prize Winner," Sarah Williams Goldhagen, The
New Republic, 16 April 2009
Peter Zumthor Interview by Francesco Garutti Klat
Peter Zumthor and Toni Hildebrandt
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011 — designed by Peter Zumthor.
Channel.louisiana.dk: "Different Kinds of Silence" (2015 video) —
Peter Zumthor by Louisiana Channel.
Pritzker Architecture Prize
Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates
Philip Johnson (1979)
Luis Barragán (1980)
James Stirling (1981)
Kevin Roche (1982)
I. M. Pei
I. M. Pei (1983)
Richard Meier (1984)
Hans Hollein (1985)
Gottfried Böhm (1986)
Kenzo Tange (1987)
Gordon Bunshaft and
Oscar Niemeyer (1988)
Frank Gehry (1989)
Aldo Rossi (1990)
Robert Venturi (1991)
Álvaro Siza Vieira
Álvaro Siza Vieira (1992)
Fumihiko Maki (1993)
Christian de Portzamparc
Christian de Portzamparc (1994)
Tadao Ando (1995)
Rafael Moneo (1996)
Sverre Fehn (1997)
Renzo Piano (1998)
Norman Foster (1999)
Rem Koolhaas (2000)
Herzog & de Meuron (2001)
Glenn Murcutt (2002)
Jørn Utzon (2003)
Zaha Hadid (2004)
Thom Mayne (2005)
Paulo Mendes da Rocha
Paulo Mendes da Rocha (2006)
Richard Rogers (2007)
Jean Nouvel (2008)
Peter Zumthor (2009)
Kazuyo Sejima and
Ryue Nishizawa /
Eduardo Souto de Moura
Eduardo Souto de Moura (2011)
Wang Shu (2012)
Toyo Ito (2013)
Shigeru Ban (2014)
Frei Otto (2015)
Alejandro Aravena (2016)
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramón Vilalta / RCR Arquitectes
B. V. Doshi
B. V. Doshi (2018)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2099 5664
BNF: cb13604776r (data)