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BreadCar • 10 years ago

Fun article. Journalists indeed seem to be stuck in the same lexical fields when it comes to Zumthor...

That being said, I was at Vals recently, and it was probably the closest I've been to a religious-like experience brought on by architecture.... Oops ^^

Daniel Carrapa • 10 years ago

Well, you sir, are just begging for trouble!
This is actually a profoundly relevant topic. As for trying to assertively discuss it on the internet... well... good luck with that!

There is, of course, a problem with the use of the word "architect". Peter Zumthor is an architect. I am an architect. Therefore I could conclude that "I am like Peter Zumthor".
I would be wrong. Just because we use the same words doesn't mean we are talking about the same things. Peter Zumthor openly claims that he is not a service provider. He doesn't work to comply with the promoter's needs or wishes and he is proud of his uncompromising nature.
No, Peter Zumthor is not one of us.

Of course, I'm not going to say that being uncompromising is a virtue or an evil. I will say that it is questionable. I would recommend the documentary "Peter Zumthor - Der Eigensinn des Schonnen" (although it is very difficult to find it nowadays) to witness some of the implications, both good and bad, of that approach to the field of architecture, and how it impacts other people.

The problem with the deification of an architect - or anyone for that matter - is that it narrows down and eventually shuts the possibility of debate. The pernicious aspect of having this cult status being promoted by architectural institutions and media - and when I say media I'm talking about critics that often have ties to official associations and academies - is that it becomes an obstacle to an open and healthy debate about architecture.

The corresponding symptom to that ill environment can be witnessed on these comments already. A possible debate gets shattered, not because the arguments raised are questioned, but because they were substituted by a lawyer type approach where (1) the author's credibility is questioned and, once that is done, (2) any argument presented is deemed irrelevant. A known way of sidestepping any discussion.

Keep in mind that Peter Zumthor's quality as an architect is not being questioned here - although it could, why not? But this is true all around the world. Every nation has its set of highly reverenced architects. If, for watever reason, one of their works becomes controversial, architectural institutions and critics will often close ranks around the defense of "the architect", whose personal qualities or overall body of work are not being questioned, to minimize the debate around "the building".

That is why you will have great difficulty finding architects openly questioning buildings such as Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences, Peter Eisenman's City of Culture of Galicia, Zaha Hadid's Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion, and so on, and so on. And if you are an architect and you question these buildings out in the open, trust me, doors will shut on you and you will be on your way to become an outcast.

The real issue here, therefore, is that the glorification of architects is detrimental to a democratic environment where ideas, including architecture, can be questioned through rational considerations from which we can all learn and evolve.

And if we deny that, if we deny the possibility of that to happen because whoever is pointing the finger doesn't hold the seal of some ubber-institution, then we all run the risk of becoming another silent witness standing among the crowd, paying tribute to naked kings.

Dorian Šestan • 7 years ago

I think you should read "Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. It would calm your spirits and maybe help you think about life.

Guest • 10 years ago

You know who else is overrated? Le Corbusier. And don't stop with architects. I'm tired of journalists praising Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus. Jesus especially! I'd love to write an editorial! Email me at notalentdouchebag@yahoo.com

Guest • 10 years ago

It's a good thing this blogger doesn't consider himself an architecture journalist.

Deepika Padam • 10 years ago

Can't believe this is how you are writing for Zumthor. If this were an article about Gehry, I would totally get it. But Zumthor! You gotto open your eyes. He may not be God, but his work is certainly worth veneration.

Jeremy Senko • 10 years ago

I thought it was a great article personally.

Reheman • 10 years ago

what are you sick of some disease? it was such an waste of time reading your article...and that dumb cartoon....Find some better things to do man!!

Dave Carcamano • 10 years ago

Totally agree, every period has his Zumthor, I've seen it before with people like Alvaro Siza and Rem Koolhaas, which are fine architects, like Zumthor, nobody denies that, it's the worshipping that's frankly ridiculous.

Guest • 10 years ago

Conrad Newel's bio reads,"This is a true story about one man and his dream to become a famous architect." After reading this article, I can make a guarantee: that will never happen.

Maybe people make "pilgrimages" to see his work because it is actually good? Or they want to see if it really matches the hype? Or Zumthor at least stands for something, rather then the gimmickry and fetishism that has toxified the design media. So yeah, journalists are lazy (especially this one), but it's the same lazy impulse to label Zumthor a 'monk' as it is to write an article that lives off of the same cliches and doesn't seek any greater understanding of the built work itself.

Maybe you should have made a "pilgrimage" yourself and then wrote about how the hype matches your own experience. Instead you chose a route just a lazy and contrived as the writers you seem so angry about.

Don't let yourself be corrupted by this design media that sees the world through the eyes of a coked up fashion model.

Laurent-Gilles Herbiet • 10 years ago

Why not call a pilgrimage a pilgrimage. I have pilgrimed thrice from the americas to the Graubunden Valleys to seek wisdom from this wise fellow. Never gets old, no matter what time of year.

Haters gonna hate

Guest • 10 years ago

Peter Zumthor is a self-promoter? You lost me there.
Look at the title of this article and the picture and you will see who is promoting who. If anything he "self-promoted" through the quality of built work. Maybe the profession needs to go more in that direction (an ethical one) instead of an increasingly superficial argument here. I'll side with the photographer in Dwell and ArchDaily that visited the sites.

Enoch Sears • 10 years ago

A great plea for some honest dialogue and introspection in the design media. Thank you.

bry • 10 years ago

Stop worshiping Rem Koolhaas

Guest • 10 years ago

This is a interesting compliation of praises for Zumthor, You post only confirm what the others critics wrote, Thanks!

About the pilgramage I think you are not understanding the complet meaning of the world, You must know the Pilgramage in the etymology, means a distant journey... the word was properly used for the critics. You are using what the word means for you... but this is not the only true.

The islamic pilgramage to Mecca, is the most radical example what you can use... not the best... this pilgramage for musulman religion is maybe one of the most important in the world, compare it with the visits to the proyects of Zumthor is completely de-escalate.

I really feel proud to listen somebody taking about how much spiritual was the experience to visit a build, becuase this kind of things are the real meaning of the Architecture, of the Art...for me!

Finally... you spoke about the "uncompromising" of Zumthor... I think this quality is a example for us about the RESPECT for our profession, for our compromise with the Architecture and the quality of our work. I was there, I saw this...

Were you in some proyect of Zumthor? What can you say about your experience?, thats is the only important, your angry with the publications could be acepted, but you don´t show background for your critic.

I recomend everyone to visit great Architecture, take the time to experience the own feelings, the good Architecture is powerful, it has been along the human history and will remaind.


Thomas Heberlein A.

Chris Alker • 10 years ago

Finally, somebody said it.

JesseCHall • 10 years ago


Have you actually ever been to a Zumthor project?

Because of all the SEMINAL works of architecture I have visited, from Corb to Koolhaas; Zumthor's work's are the only ones that possess an inherent reflective quality. You FEEL his space unlike anything I have ever experienced from a contemporary architect. They have a quality of something closer to a Gothic cathedral than the cold rational of Corb or Mies, or the narratives embedded with Koolhaas's work--not to take away from these three, because they are masters of THEIR craft. I only mean to distinguish these architects work. In terms of "meditative quality" the only space of been in built in the past century that approaches the quality of what is imbued in Zumthor's work is the A. Perret project Notre Dame Du Raincy. How does Zumthor do it? Well, in my opinion the best explanation is his "uncompromising" approach to materiality.

Martino Pietropoli • 10 years ago

That's how architecture should be told. Great article. Funny but deep.

Luis Gonzalez • 10 years ago

Jesus was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem.

Arturo Mieussens • 10 years ago

Wrong, they travelled from nazareth to bethlehem for the census when the kid was born. Not that I care, but check your facts before criticizing others.

Andres López • 10 years ago

I understand, every once in a while, the Pritzker committee must award its prize
to a complete unknown.Yet I never understood why it chose Peter Zumthor. His
miniscule body of work along with his almost brutalistic style borders on the
boring and stale. I don´t know why anyone would consider him a master of
materials. Every tired example of construction detail in his work I have seen a
thousand times before in countless different places. I had far more respect for the Pritzker before Zumthor and Paulo Mendes da Rocha.

Guest • 10 years ago

I see a parallel with music. All of the biggest names in music now are the same from 10 years ago when MTV played videos. It seems like the internet is good at recycling the old rather than bringing in the new. Zumthor = pageviews, clear and simple. And so, we are doomed to repeat the past over and over again.

Silvia Wencel • 8 years ago


Brandon • 10 years ago

Now Author, you're just one more ignorant bastard who pulls out on others for the fact that you couldn't get as high as Mr. Pete. Jealousy is all I can read above. You're of no importance to anybody in reality. You may just kill yourself or go on further voyages of killing others as well. And there's is no way you could have compared Mr. Pete with JB and his admirers JB's fan? Are you freaking serious??... Kindly get some psychological medical tests done regularly in order to keep the course of other's learning calm and comfortable. You for sure have no idea what you are getting into. One word 'FUCKTARD'.

Marco Aurelio Lopez • 10 years ago

For someone who disregards the experience felt by other fellow architecture writers or bloggers -dont really know if it's is your only job, for I just happened to read this article written by you- in their visits or as they put it : "pilgrimages" to Zumthor's works, and interpretate the way you did it in this article, because you believe the word "pilgrimage" was misused and the word used to define his work ethics approach: " uncompromising" is overrated, and considering what says in the paragraph above, the one used to qualify your work, especially the last statement in it: " a force to be reckoned with" talking about selfpromotion having such lines as an introduction to one's work- well, I´m still trying to figure out, how to read your article objectively.

Remember "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I believe, and as you put it, we must remain objective right?, to reduce anybody's experience just because you don't relate the same way they do, it's clearly narrow minded thus unobjective.

Regarding the work of an architect as famous, and whose work is consciously designed to enhance the experience to be felt at any of the buildings he has done and does, not for the purpose of him being considered an icon to be praised and worshiped -such an incongruity for someone who avoids reflectors - but for the ultimate purpose of architecure, wich is to conceive a place for whoever the users may be, for them to fully live and experience the space in every possible way, to relate to it, in doing so, Zumthor has been proved to fully achieved the afore mentioned.

Do mind the spelling.

Tonypoo • 10 years ago

A little envy, perhaps???

Guest • 10 years ago

seems like drawing inspiration, clarity, mediation, or some kind of understanding from a site, whether religious or personal, could be considered a pilgrimage, even by his narrow definition. I too find this writing as trivial as the journalists he pans. I myself did find those sites to be very inspiring within the 'religion' of architecture which I follow. And, as far as int'l architects go, Zumthor is quite uncompromising if you compare to a OMA or Gehry. Ugh, wasting my own breath now.