Peter Zumthor chosen for 2011 Serpentine Pavilion

Peter Zumthor has been named the architect for the 2010 Serpentine Pavilion in London, having just won the Pritzker Prize in 2009 and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale in 2008. I was reminded of his work recently during a discussion about who’d be chosen to build the new Vancouver Art Gallery (which is becoming a perennial topic around here), and a friend said Zumthor was his favourite architect. It’s unlikely anyone could convince Zumthor to build our gallery, not to mention that the city can’t afford him. But my very conceptual art friend said, to my surprise, “I’m sorry, but a gallery should be a temple,” and it’s true that everything Zumthor touches becomes a place of pilgrimage. Zumthor arrives at this almost devotional or poetic place, though, through practical concerns of utility and function. He’s Swiss.

“I believe that architecture today needs to reflect on the tasks and possibilities which are inherently its own. 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. I believe that the language of architecture is not a question of a specific style. 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.”

Via archdaily and Architects Journal. Top, Bruder Klaus Chapel, photos from Siong Chin. Next, Therme Vals, Zumthor’s famous public thermal baths. Below, the museum at Kolumba. Bottom, Saint Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, Switzerland. As usual, despite being the most irreligious non-believer, I’m drawn to church architecture, probably for its communal purpose and its poetry.

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5 Responses to “Peter Zumthor chosen for 2011 Serpentine Pavilion”

  1. janis - pinecone camp Says:

    Incredible architecture. Why oh why don’t we have some of this in Vancouver??

  2. LB Says:

    Very. good. question.

  3. Muyserin Says:

    I have been dreaming of going to the Vals Therme for almost a decade. Maybe I get a chance next spring.

  4. kelly Says:

    I’ve been to quite a few of his buildings they truly are miraculous. Vals, Chur, St Benedict.

    and Janis I suppose it is b/c Canada, similar to the states, doesn’t hold high state-funded architecture. Therefore it loses some of its prestige and often goes to the lowest bidder. Europe’s ideas/culture of what a building is are held to a higher standard.

  5. LB Says:

    These buildings do inspire you to make the kind of visit that could be described as a pilgrimage. Kelly, I think you’re right about public/state involvement in architecture – it produces a very different culture of architecture and planning.

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