33rd Pritzker Prize winner: Peter Zumthor



He is not a celebrity architect, not one of the names that show up on shortlists for museums and concert hall projects or known beyond architecture circles. He hasn’t designed many buildings; the one he is best known for is a thermal spa in an Alpine commune. And he has toiled in relative obscurity for the last 30 years in a remote village in the Swiss mountains.

…so begins the NYT article announcing Zumthor’s award. Of course all this will change, for probably a lot longer than 15 minutes too…

The Pritzker jury had nice things to say, as you might well expect:

He develops buildings of great integrity — untouched by fad or fashion. Declining a majority of the commissions that come his way, he only accepts a project if he feels a deep affinity for its program, and from the moment of commitment, his devotion is complete, overseeing the project’s realization to the very last detail.

However, it seems that the announcement has taken all of the major wold’s papers by complete surprise, as none of them provide a very detailed analysis of Zumthor’s work – the NYT waffles on in a vague kind of way, while the Guardian offers a nice enough photo spread – which leaves Wikipedia to provide the casual surfer with the most indepth account of Zumthor:

Zumthor’s work is largely unpublished in part because of his philosophical belief that architecture must be experienced first hand. His published written work is mostly narrative and phenomenological [the article draws parallels with Heideggerian philosophy for those of that bent]”.

…and certainly provides the most interesting bits of information:

Currently, Zumthor works out of his small studio which he founded in 1979, in the town of Haldenstein, Switzerland. He enjoys playing tennis, good cigars, margaritas and jazz.

Anyway, check out these projects:

Thermal Baths ValsKunsthaus BregenzSaint Benedict ChapelSwiss Sound BoxKolumba MuseumBrother Klaus Field ChapelThermal Baths ValsKunsthaus BregenzSaint Benedict ChapelSwiss Sound BoxKolumba MuseumBrother Klaus Field Chapel


3 responses to “33rd Pritzker Prize winner: Peter Zumthor”

  1. He may not be a ‘celebrity’ architect, but maybe that’s a good thing. No show pony here…

  2. That’s great news for Peter. Having seen Thermal Baths Vals, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Saint Benedict Chapel, and the Protective Housing for Roman Archeological Excavations I can certainly see why they gave it to him – beautifully crafted architecture. His mother will be very proud.

  3. The ‘media kit’ for the prize is worth a quick flick through – has a short blurb on a number of his buildings. The photo book that is there is worth perhaps a slower flick through as well.


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