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Monday, November 23, 2009

Zumthor's Spa











This project built by Peter Zumthor, winner of this years highest architectural honors award - the Pritzker, remains his absolute most powerful work to date. Its uncompromising minimalism shows an exacting discipline very few could ever even begin to emulate. Master architects around the world revere him with the utmost respect because of his iron will and ability to get his vision built. He has even been known to personally take part in laying stone for several of his projects. He is architect as stone mason. In fact, the entire spa appears to have been quarried from the earth and then built directly on top of its own stone foundation. The walls are expressed as a foundation that has emerged from the bowls of the earth. Its as if Roman emperors had returned not with an agenda of opulence but rather the opposite, with a manifesto of austere minimalism. The spa however does not feel sterile. A certain feeling of security and calm is felt with the massive stone walls - a serenity very fitting for a wellness spa.

The penultimate zen master of European minimalist modern architect, Zumthor, leads a path so disciplined it dances on the boundaries of fanaticism. A stoic who persued architecture only after satisfying part of his creative nature by working as an apprentice in his fathers cabinet shop, Zumthor remains a recluse choosing to take only a small amount of projects per year ensuring a truly selective body of work. He embodies the Swiss Village mentality of methodically working with an eye on perfection thru process of restraint and humility. In an era of Starchitects trying to leave their mark on as many building types as humanly possible, Zumthor is content to meditate on his stone structures, at do it entirely at his own pace. - Ecomanta

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Built over the only thermal springs in the Graubunden Canton in Switzerland, The Therme Vals is a hotel and spa in one which combines a complete sensory experience designed by Peter Zumthor.

Peter Zumthor designed the spa/baths which opened in 1996 to pre date the existing hotel complex. The idea was to create a form of cave or quarry like structure. Working with the natural surroundings the bath rooms lay below a grass roof structure half buried into the hillside. The Therme Vals is built from layer upon layer of locally quarried Valser Quarzite slabs. This stone became the driving inspiration for the design, and is used with great dignity and respect.


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