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.