VIEWS FROM WEST PID

What fires up our imaginations to write and draw stories for this ‘Muttwits’ dog blog? Everything and anything, really. Read on…

Continuing the theme of inspirational people (for me, anyways), and who I’d happily share my last piece of squashed pizza under the five bins ‘round back of Tesco Extra:  Peter Zumthor. 

Peter Zumthor (visionary Swiss architect, post-humanist, and a right cool hindlegs!)

(courtesy The Guardian)

A building speaks louder than a thousand words, surely (erh..) as these images attest.

(images courtesy http://www.flickr.com)

Peter Zumthor was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1943. His father was a cabinet-maker and he  followed in his footsteps as an apprentice carpenter. However, his creative imagination required more than the organic feel of wood beneath his hands. They needed the tactile creationist embrace of rough stone, smooth glass and all the cold and malleable possibilities of the element of concrete

In 1966, Zumthor studied industrial design and architecture in New York and soon became conservationist architect for the Department for the Preservation of Monuments in a Swiss canton. This allowed work on several historic restoration projects which introduced him to the construction qualities of rustic building materials. As his technical abilities developed, Zumthor was able to incorporate and combine these rustic elements of wood, uncut stone, traditional-fired glass, together with rough-cast concrete into the creation of some of the most extraordinary modernist (and minimalist) building ‘spaces’ and detailing. His buildings explore the tactile, sensory qualities of sacred spaces, combined with an exquisite use of textured materials – especially concrete.

Zumthor founded his own firm in 1979. His practice grew quickly and 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 Wachendorf. (courtesy Wikipedia.com)

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.  In November 2009, Zumthor begun 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. (courtesy Wikipedia.com)

Currently, Zumthor works out of his small studio in Haldenstein, Switzerland. 

Okay then, back to the question of why I am featuring him as someone I most admire? 

Well, apart from the fact that no one should look this cool at 77yrs (although I hope to dog I do at that venerable age), his understanding of using space to illicit imagination – the so-called sacred spaces – greatly appeals to my Celtic/Scandinavian bloodline.  His often brutalist / monolithic architecture is amazingly offset with the most intricate filigree of motif and detail; two contrasting elements which should not be able to share the same room (pun intended) become the catalyst for something truly magical in modern architecture.  The Bruder Klaus Field Chapel is a perfect example of this : from a cubist exterior to a delicate womb-like interior; made completely from rough concrete samples. See the images below:

Finally, I stand is awe to this wonderful man and his talent because he fills me with hope for all of our creative spirit: that creativity harnessed to the natural world will see us through to a more enlightened age.  Well, that’s the hope.  Please do Google http://www.horstundedeltraut.com/ for more details on some of his extraordinary works.

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