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The Atmosphere and the Shelter #Peter Zumthor


Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2009, considers the aim of architecture “to shelter men, let them live and dwell in it, and not to overwhelm them with its natter”. Thus, he believes that architecture is the work of creating “atmospheres” that their inhabitants could appropriate. The main idea in this approach to architecture is the interior space as a place of shelter, where the user can feel at home. This is the reason why elements such as furniture, that bring the scale of the building closer to the scale of the user, are so important.

From his early training as a cabinet-maker, Zumthor keeps a respectful treatment of the material and thorough constructive solutions. This is particularly clear when the chosen material is timber, as we can see in the Gugalun House, the wooden houses in Leis or the Hannover Pavilion. These features are present at the structure, the enclosure and also the furniture, which is designed on purpose as a necessary part for creating the atmosphere of the place.

Inside the Sogn Benedetg Chapel, the benches are made of the same timber than the structure of the walls and the roof, so all the elements follow the same idea of tectonics, tangible as well as transcendent.

On the other hand, the material chosen in the Therme Vals is the stone from the hill where it is built. The therme were designed as a cavern, recreating the feeling of seclusion and intimate contact with nature that we have in a cave. So, most of the furniture is made from the same material, as if it was carved from the rock itself.