Peter Zumthor and Bruder Claus Chapel- Architecture Stories #3

Bruder Claus Chapel is THE masterpiece by Peter Zumthor.

Its construction is quite spectacular: after building hand made formwork made out of 112 tree trunks, 24 layers of 50 cm concrete were poured over 24 days, in a technique that reminds the use of rammed earth.

Once the concrete was poured, the wooden frame was set on fire leaving a dark hollow cavity.

Glass cylinders were cast within the concrete, allowing light to filter inside. The result is spectacular and the feeling is that of standing in the middle of an old tree trunk which is covered in resin. It is just poetry at pure state.

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Peter Zumthor and Therme Vals- Architectural Stories #2

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I will try to explain in words what pictures don’t do, specially when we are dealing with Peter Zumthor work.

Peter himself does not like books or photos to describe his buildings, as in effect we are talking about sensations and experiences.

Its architecture is simple: mass and voids. When we put down the materials, then we start talking, whispering or even singing: stone and water. How many forms or smells or colors can water take?

In Vals water comes on any possible form, be it vapor, snow, ice and drops. And even color and smell have their character, from pools of flower to ferrous pools.

And about stone itself, well it can be cold, oh so very cold, or warm and almost hot. Light can shine on it and reflect as a mirror, or it can get as dark as the bottom of a pit.

Get there in winter to enjoy the Therms at their best, and make sure you order plenty of cheese fondue and spatzli in one of the restaurants on the way back.