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Peter Zumthor Therme Vals Hardcover – March 15, 2007
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This book documents how the project was conceived and developed. It includes beautiful photographs, conceptual sketches, and working drawings by Zumthor's studio. These certainly help us understand his design methodology. It is neither pedantic nor pretentious. Explanations are clear and easy to understand.
His attention to detail comes from his strong focus on design goals and design principles established along the process. Design goals are set based on conceptual developments which were informed by inspirations. He talks about the importance of inspirational images when he gets into a project. He looks deep into a way to realize an inspiration/ a desire into an architectural reality. He seems to be dedicated to executing the basic well in this process but, the basic doesn't mean plain and simple. Nothing he describes is really new or particularly brilliant/ innovative. Of course, Zumthor's architecture cannot be reduced to a phrase, "basics well done". But, one cannot help thinking how important it is to execute the basic well from design to construction with a clear intention.
On the one hand, one senses the stubbornness of the architect while reading this book. On the other, you will recognize that his focus and uncompromising standards really do make a difference in the end. Perhaps, his seriousness might be called so German or Swiss in a way, although this type of generalization is always problematic. In an age filled with gimmicks, deceits, twists, and rhetorical prowess, his pursuit of "content" (substance) and unrelenting efforts to make a lasting impact on built environments is admirable to say the least. Highly recommended.
They wont let you take pictures or sketch at the building, so get the book - no qualms there.
This book will make room for itself on even the fullest bookshelf.