The Practice of Architecture
Visiting Peter Zumthor

directed by Michael Blackwood
58 minutes, color


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The architect Peter Zumthor lives and works in the remote village of Haldenstein in the Swiss Kanton of Graubünden. Here, keeping the politics of architecture at a comfortable distance, Zumthor enjoys the status of “world-class” architect for his unique modernist buildings. They can be found in many parts of Europe, soon to be followed by a public building in Los Angeles, where he is in charge of a new master plan for LACMA.

Visiting him in his studio, where he would be surrounded by drawings and marquettes turned out to be a good idea. Critic Kenneth Frampton questioned him during a tour of his current work and about his pioneering earlier works, such as the Spa in Vals, for which he received much early recognition, and the recent much acclaimed Kolumba, the museum of the archdiocese of Cologne, Germany. He showed us and discussed his models for his Zink-Mine-Museum in Almannajuuvet, Norway; Memorial to the Burning of Witches in the Finnmark, Vardo, Norway; The Chivelstone House, A secular Retreat, for Devon, England; The House of Seven Gardens, for Sheik Saoud Al Thani, Doha, Qatar; Hortus conclusus for the 2011 Serpentine Pavilion in London; and several others, some completed and others in progress.

For views of his built designs we used the photographs of Hélène Binet who has photographed his architecture from the beginning.  Zumthor cherishes his isolated location to be able to work without much interruption. He seemed quite relaxed despite our visit, accomplishing most of a day’s work at the same time.

© Michael Blackwood Productions

© Hélène Binet