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Place, authorship and the concrete: three conversations with Peter Zumthor

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2001

Steven Spier
Affiliation:
Department of Architecture and Building Science, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G4 0NG, UK; s.spier@strath.ac.uk
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Abstract

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Wishing to write about his work, I approached Peter Zumthor in February 1996. We agreed to do something substantial but still accessible, and eventually settled on the format of a long interview. We then chose three of his buildings that would raise different issues – the now famous Thermal Baths in Vals, the Wohnsiedlung Spittelhof and Topography of Terror in Berlin.Readers unfamiliar with these three buildings will find them comprehensively described and illustrated in the superb Peter Zumthor Works: buildings and projects 1979–97 with text by Peter Zumthor and photographs by Hélène Binet, published by Lars Müller Publishers, Baden, 1998, ISBN 3-907044-58-4. This and the related Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor were the subject of an extended review in arq 3/1.

The interviews were held in English on 22 July 1997 over the course of the day in his studio in Haldenstein. They are published in the order in which they were held. We edited them together in August 2000, resisting the desire to amend them.

I first learnt of his work in 1988 when he was a visiting professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Santa Monica where he first delivered the lecture later published as ‘A Way of Looking at Things’. I would like to thank him for agreeing to share his thoughts on architecture, and for the often difficult and unfashionable reminder that to do things well takes time.

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