Praemium Imperiale 2008


Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor began working as an architect and consultant at the Department for the Preservation of Monuments of the Swiss canton of Graubünden, later moving to Haldenstein, where, thirty years later, he still has his small studio. In its yearly awards, presented in different artistic categories, The Japan Art Association praised the values of the work of Zumthor, whom, trained as a cabinet maker before becoming an architect, has managed to create vibrant atmospheres through the experience of textures to find the essential and the lasting, and transmit the tension between the material and the spiritual qualities of architecture. The jury compared the use of light and shade in the architect’s work with that of the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows. Zumthor has shown a clear regionalist leaning throughout his career, with works deeply rooted in their environment and endowed with great tectonic density, like the Thermal Bath Vals in Switzerland (1996), the moving Kolumba Museum or the telluric Bruder Klaus Chapel (both in Germany and finished in 2007), works that confirm his style, apparently modest, but filled with spiritual content.

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