Peter Zumthor is widely regarded as one of the most influential contemporary architects.
Born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1943, Zumthor has always rooted his designs in a strong relationship between architecture and place, in the importance of the perceived qualities of building materials, and an, somewhat empathic, attitude towards building design which comes from his diverse cultural background.
The son of a cabinet maker, Zumthor is a quite original figure in today’s architectural world, known for his reservedness and the refusal of the “starchitect” way of life (he still lives and works with a small number of collaborators in Haldenstein, a small village in the canton of Graubünden).
Yet, it is his rare capability to combine a very concrete and “physical” sensibility, always attentive to details, with a sophisticated philosophic framework that gave him worldwide recognition.
As he once said: “Architecture is not a vehicle or a symbol for things that do not belong to its essence. In a society that celebrates the inessential, architecture can put up a resistance, counteract the waste of forms and meanings, and speak its own language. (…) Every building is built for a specific use in a specific place and for a specific society. My buildings try to answer the questions that emerge from these simple facts as precisely and critically as they can.”
Also a professor, a writer and a theorist, Peter Zumthor has been awarded a number of international honors, including the Carlsberg Architecture Prize in 1998, the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture in 1999, the Praemium Imperiale in 2008, the Pritzker Prize in 2008, and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2009.
Cover image: Peter Zumthor portrayed by Gary Ebner
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